Monday, November 29, 2021

Review of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemo─člu, James A. Robinson

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics, History

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Political and economic institutions shape incentives for everyone in the society.  Political and economic rules are created and enforced by citizens and state.  While the economic system shapes how people earn an income, trade, and innovate, it is the political process that determines under what economic system people live under.  Inclusive economic institution encourage participation of everyone in economic activity by unbiased laws, property rights, public services, level playing field for exchange and contract, entry of new business, and individual’s ability to choose their careers.  Extractive economic institutions have the inverse properties of inclusive economic institutions, and extract wealth from society to the benefit of a few.  Societies choose their economic system through the political process in which they decide what rules to enforce.  There is synergy between inclusive political and economic institutions, as there is synergy between extractive political and economic institutions, because those in power will try to retain their status.  

Inclusive economic institutions facilitate a willingness of individuals to partake in economic activity knowing that their output will not be arbitrarily taken.  As individuals will get rewarded for their output, they are more willing to invest and increase productivity.  Inclusive economic institutions create inclusive markets that provide individuals with the same opportunities to utilize their talents.  Facilitate obtaining skills and work suited for the individual.  Inclusive political institutions have power broadly distributed, and constrain arbitrary power.  They have elected representatives which are replaced when they misbehave.  

Extractive political institutions do not have many constraints on exercise of power.  Leading to extractive economic institutions which are structured to extract resources from the rest of society.  To extract wealth, extractive institutions do need some way to stimulate economic activity.  Limited prosperity directed to benefit the few.  They exclude their citizens from participating in political decisions.  

Creative destruction can create different losers and winners.  Those who might lose from creative destruction fear inclusive economic and political institutions.  Those controlling political power can limit competition to prevent degradation of their privileges.  

Critical junctures are events which can disrupt societies political mix.  They can break the vicious cycle of extractive institutions, or can endanger inclusive institutions.   Inclusive economic and political institutions tend to emerge after a conflict, as there are powers wanting to maintain the status quo.  In many cases, conquerors could not coerce labor.  The tools they used were instead to incentive labor.  To get people to want to work.  

Many public services can be provided by the market, but the state has a unique ability to coordinate on a large scale.  Markets are not free from becoming extractive when few firms control most of the market.  Needing a kind of political centralization to provide law and order.  To enable coordination without obtaining monopoly powers that lead to extractive institutions. 


Caveats?

This book provides an easy read and a very good understanding of how political and economic institutions shape inequality.  Using historical analysis to bring about that understanding.  The problem is that there are many issues and inconsistencies in the book.  

The focus of the book is only on political and economic institutions, while eager to dismiss the alterative views of geography, culture, and knowledge as factors in inequality.  Those factors might not explain everything, but they have shaped what the political and economic institutions people live under.  Therein also lies an inconsistency, as during certain parts of the book, the authors used geography, culture, and knowledge as reasons for obtaining certain types of political and economic institutions. 

The historical examples quality is mixed.  Sometimes there is an in-depth background into the problems of a nation.  Other times, incidents are given and described in terms of only inclusive or extractive economic and political institutions, but there were a lot more to the events which can provide a different understanding.  There is a lot of history in this book, mainly with the start of the Industrial Revolution, but even during the low historical quality events, it enables the reader to search for more information on the nations.  

There is an inconsistency in which inclusive and extractive institutions are described.  It appears that inclusive political institutions only produce inclusive economic systems, while extractive political systems only produce extractive economic systems.  As in, there appears to be a separation between inclusive and extractive institution.  The problem is that economies have a mixture of both inclusive and extractive institutions.  In the histories presented, there were turns to and from inclusive or extractive institutions.  Which means, and the author do make the claim, that there as conflict between those within the nations on the opposing sides.  Not realistic for a society to be completely inclusive, while it may appear that complete extraction is possible. 

The issue of the mixture of inclusive and extractive institutions brings up an associated idea of dependency on the past.  It appears that there is no way to change the inclusive or extractive institutions without critical junctures.  Critical junctures appear random, but this might be because their outcomes during their time were uncertain.  The problem is that the conflicts and events of the critical junctures, had social backing and their own precedence.  Not very predictable ones, but did require some impetus before the critical juncture.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What are political institutions?
•What are economic institutions?
•What makes political and economic institutions inclusive?  What makes them extractive?
•Why do inclusive institutions create more inclusion while extractive institutions keep extracting?
•Who creates the rules?  Who enforces the rules? 
•What is creative destruction? 
•Why are critical junctures important? 
•Why is government needed? 
•What is the dual economy?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780307719218
Pages to read:   462
Publication:     2012
1st Edition:      2012
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           4


Friday, November 26, 2021

Review of The Secret Formula of Strategic Thinkers: Winning Steps for Sustained Success by Cory Smith

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Intriguing Connections = Why Do People Think Differently?

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Chess is more than just a game, it is a mindset.  Chess provides a way of thinking that can be beneficial to everyday life.  Such as influencing the outcome of a situation by applying strategies.  Planning ahead orients decisions to conform with set goals.  Which facilitates control of what happens, rather than life just happening.  Strategy involves utilizing available resources towards an objective.  Adjusting the objective to become realistic and achievable.  Strategy involves a conflict between interest and resolution.  Strategy allows the individual to overcome obstacles.  Much like in chess, the more information is known, the more informed strategies become.  A way to obtain more information is by looking at situations from different perspectives.  Becoming a strategic thinker requires the individual to know one’s self.  This book being a general guide to getting to know one’s self, to obtain self-knowledge.  


Caveats?

This book is easy to read, but has many inconsistencies.  The basic premise is to use chess skills in real life.  The problem is that chess and life have different complexities.  In chess, rules rarely change.  Learned rules can easily apply to future scenarios.  While in life, rules change quickly.  What was successful recently, cannot easily become applicable moving forward.  Life cannot be manipulated as pieces in chess. 

Part of the book requires a bit of cognitive dissonance, or maybe the language needs to be made more consistent.  The cognitive dissonance comes how much control an individual has over their lives.  From seeing the outcome of a plan static and trying to fulfill it, but also being fluid.  As in that the individual can control the outcome, but also not really.  There is an acknowledgement that the future is uncertain, but most claims are for controlling an outcome.  Individual’s may have some control over their lives, but the book reads as if individual’s control everything about their lives.  

This book sets up many self-help guidelines.  The problem is that they can help or can hurt.  There are many different ways of achieving some of the general claims of self-help virtues, but different people will need to find their own way of achieving them.  The tasks need to be put in context with individual values.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•How can chess be applied to everyday thinking?
•What is a strategy?
•Why should plans be made?
•How to get more informed strategies?
•How does an individual learn about one’s self?
•How much control over the outcome does an individual have?

Book Details
My version was provided by NetGalley
Edition ISBN:  9798498933863
Pages to read:   76
Publication:     2021
1st Edition:      2021
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          3
Overall           3

Monday, November 22, 2021

Review of The Clash of Economic Ideas by Lawrence H. White

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics
Intriguing Connections = 1) Learning Economics: Basic to Advanced,


Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Economic ideas clashed on the role of government and the process of competition.  Discussing the different roles of monetary policy to economic crisis management.  Many of the ideas were taken up by governments, creating experiments which determined which ideas had merit and problems.  All ideas presented had problems with application.  What matters is how to ameliorate the ideas.  Not only are economic ideas disputed, but whether economic ideas themselves hold value.  From those that consider them useless given that those in power will utilize policies which are then adopted by academics who maintain the views.  To application of even derelict ideas to the detriment of policy.  No matter the claims of economists, many ideas and policies persist, even those that contradict their claims.  While academics discuss the economy as is, policy advice is laden with what the economy should be.  

Socialism is normally described as government control over various aspects of the economy.  But there are different techniques involved in commanding the economy.  Capitalism is normally described leaving the economy in the guidance of private control directed by profit and loss.  But there is a need to delineate capitalism guided by the government known as state and crony capitalism from the guide of free market as free-market capitalism.  Those promoting decentralized ownership with competitive markets wanted them for the benefit of workers and consumers, not businessmen.  

Some of the leading figures in the clash of economic ideas were John Maynard Keynes, and F.A. Hayek.  While Keynes wanted government to take more control over the economy, but did not want to abolish the market.  Hayek wanted to reduce government’s interference with market forces, but did not want to abolish the government.   

The price system enables coordination between individuals.  When the Bolsheviks outlawed private property, they removed the price system which led to economic disaster.  As the alternative was starvation, many sectors of the economy readmitted market exchange, which improved economic conditions.  The profit system decentralizes production decision makers, while discouraging wasteful decisions.  The market economy acts as a discovery mechanism of alternative options.  


Caveats?

The book is sometimes well written, other times more difficult.  The problem is that for some chapters and ideas, it is less a clash and more a bash of ideas.  In which the perceived wrong idea is not necessarily given an appropriate understanding to what the idea entails, and as to why there were individuals who believe them. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Do economic ideas have value?
•What is the appropriate role for the government?
•What is socialism?
•What is capitalism?
•What happens when government take too much control of the economy?
•What happens when markets take too much control of the economy?
•What influence did economic ideas have on policies?
•Were the policies that used the economic ideas, use them appropriately?
•Why is there disagreement between economic ideas?
•What were some monetary policy disagreements?
•What were the different views on the making of an economic crisis?  How did economists want to resolve economic crisis? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781139366038
Pages to read:   494
Publication:     2012
1st Edition:      2012
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Review of An International Economy: Problems and Prospects by Gunnar Myrdal

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Integration refers to national communities being brought closer to interdependence by internal and mutual adjustments.  Economic integration is an ideal in which everyone gets access to the same opportunities no matter the background of the individual.  Requiring changing social norms.  The problem is that policy cannot easily change the reality of the vast differences in people’s beliefs, interests, cultures, and other differences.  Liberalization of international trade on its own cannot affect integration.  Trade can widen the gap between living standards, and can perpetuate stagnation in underdeveloped regions.  While richer countries advance, poorer countries either stagnate or progress slower.  National integration and regional cooperation are needed to gain bargaining power, which is needed for political balance.

This book showcases the problems with integration such as with industrialization, certain regions has led to the exploitation of natural resources.  When populations urbanized, it broke down social ties and enforced mobility.  Those in power want economic development, but to get it without changing the social structure in which they have been the beneficiaries.


Caveats?

This book is very difficult to read.  Makes it hard to understand the important issues presented.  The book was written for contemporaries of the 1950s, and as such, contains many events that are no longer very applicable to current situations.   General insights can be gained, but to understand the specifics would require background knowledge into the issues of the time.   As the book focuses on problems of development, it can appear that the author is against the development of economies.


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is economic integration?  
•What is the difference between national and international integration?
•Why does integration challenge regional differences?
•What is the impact of trade?
•How can economies develop?
•Who does not want to develop their economies?
•Should trade be regulated?

Book Details
Edition Library of Congress:  5412156
Pages to read:   343
Publication:     1956
1st Edition:      1956
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    1
Content          2
Overall           1


Monday, November 15, 2021

Review of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics, Business

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Humans are social beings and want to belong.  Tribes make life better.  Tribes are people connected to a leader and an idea.  Requiring a shared interest, and a method of communication.  Tribes need leadership, and vice versa.  Leaders are meant to be agents of change.  To overcome potential social consequences.  Although many fear failure which paralyzes decisions making, doing nothing accomplishes nothing.  Being wrong is not fatal.  What it takes is a willingness to be wrong.  Anyone can become a leader, and there are many opportunities to be one given the abundance and diversity of tribes.  Even a single individual can change society.  Change challenges the status quo, and leaders are those who rise up to take on that challenge.  

Management is about utilizing resources for a known job.  Leadership is about creating change.  Leadership is uncompromising and does not settle.  Leaders are partisan as partisans want to make a difference.  Leaders become influential because of their tribe.  Leaders build connections that empower the tribe to communicate, rather than dictating commands.  Less about what the tribe promotes, and more about the connections that are made.  Leader’s focus is on the tribe, and only the tribe. Willing to make personal sacrifices for the tribe.  Leaders go beyond the discomfort, which makes them so rare.  Leaders are not like other people.  

There is a lot of leverage to make change happen, embroiled in a marketplace that pleads for the remarkable.  Heretics have become prized for leadership.  Those who challenge the status quo.  Growth requires customers who believe in the leader and support the idea and product.  Customers are looking for products that are different, that are exciting.  For customers, patrons, or tribe members, numbers are less effective than fans.  Fans provide the commitment.  Tribe members who just follow instruction are not going to actively engage, nor will recruit others.

There are tribes which do their best to maintain the status quo and prevent dissent.  Change means that their ways of thinking are being challenged, and they do not like the challenge.  They do not want to be responsible if the different way of doing something leads to negative consequences.  

Technology has changed the way leadership needs to operate.  Reducing the cost of change, while providing greater rewards.  The internet has made more people accessible to be part of a tribe, and there are a variety of different tribes.  There are so many different tribes that everyone can be a leader.  


Problems?

This book is an easy read and does a wonderful at expressing the need for leadership, but it is mired in inconsistency and other problems.  Making this book very frustrating, as the reader needs cognitive dissonance to understand the claims.  The basic claim is that everyone can be a leader, but also that the skills needed to do so make them rare.  It is inconsistent to claim that leaders are both common and rare at the same time. 

Within the book, the value goes to the single individual who can make change via a tribe.  Although the community and the tribe is how value is derived, the focus is on the individual rather than the tribe.  The individual is important, but so are the people which facilitated the circumstances that that enabled that individual.  Promoting the need of a leader should not come at the expense of the actual tribe. 

The characterization of the leader makes the leader appear sociopathic.  The author points out that being an egomaniac is not a requirement, and alternatives are often better, but the leader is not allowed to compromise.  That partisanship is better.  It seems difficult for a leader to build a tribe of people who the leader is not allowed to negotiate or compromise with.  To have a tribe requires people to be social, but the leader appears to be sociopathic given their unwillingness to cooperate with others.  

Change is the panacea of this book.  Disruption is always better.  This is historically not true as change is risky, and the consequences are not as easy to disregard.  The prior modes of production were created via change, but it does not make them immediately inferior when they have become the norm.  There are many ideas and products that are very old, but are still better than the alternatives.  New does not mean better.  Change is needed as it does sometimes make society better.  But change is not always better, and can have dire consequences.


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why do people join tribes?  
•What kind of tribes are there? 
•What is a tribe?
•What is a leader?
•Why do tribes need leaders?
•What do tribes look for in a leader?
•Who can be a leader?
•Why do people fear failure? 
•What are the costs of being wrong?
•What does a leader do for the tribe?
•How did the internet change leadership and tribes? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9781591842330
Pages to read:   148
Publication:     2008
1st Edition:      2008
Format:           Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          2
Overall           2

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Review of Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship Is Poisoning the U.S. House of Representatives by Juliet Eilperin

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Politics

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Politicians know that they are most effective when they spend considerable time understanding both party members which lead to legislative coalitions, but now they do not know the opposition.  Both Democrats and Republicans polarized politics via various tactics.  Both sides reinforce and exacerbate the partisan divide.  Tactics that include punishing members who do not completely support the party, while rewarding loyalists.  Whichever side initiated toxic political tactics, the tactics where then promoted by the opposition and utilized more aggressively.  Bipartisan cooperation has become akin to betrayal.  As moderates have become rare, they are having a harder time making their case.  Politicians have become less accountable to the voters, creating a political system that disenfranchises everyone.

House of Representatives is supposed to be closest to the people because of their more frequent elections.  The problem is that by using various tactics, the voters became less valuable.  For many elections, it is the political operatives such as map makers who determine election outcomes, rather than the voters.  That has made politicians less accountable to the public, while more encumbered in party ideology.  By gaming the system, the politicians have created a system where they and other politicians who agree with their sentiments, are continuously elected.  Stereotyping voters based on political affiliation can lead to misunderstanding as the voters tend to be more complicated than the stereotype.  The irony is that their representatives can sometimes fit a stereotype.

A tactic used by both parties is creating unity by punishing those who disagree with their leaders.  Neither side wants bipartisan majority, they seek to have enough votes from their own side.  Negotiation is no longer needed.  Another tactic is the increased use of ‘emergency’ procedures.  Bills are supposed to have at least 48 hours for politicians to scrutinize, but with emergency procedures they are barely given any time at all even for very long bills.

Americans are increasingly politically segregated as they choose to live near like-minded neighbors.  Without personal connections to the opposing political members, they tend to demonize their opponents at the expense of engaging in genuine policy negotiations.   There is less opportunities for the different party members to get to know each other.  Politicians spend less time debating each other, and more time in their region catering to constituents.  

  

Problems?

A well-written book that makes the social, cultural, and political aspects of U.S. polarization easy to understand.  The author supports centrists and moderates, given that the book is how the system went from having many of them to having little of them.  But, at times, the author shows favor to one side over another party because of the power struggle during the time.  Responsibility for the polarization is given to both.  The topics presented are important, but are explained in an insufficient manner.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why are politicians polarized?
•What tactics do politicians use against their own party?
•What tactics do politicians use against their opposing party?
•Is negotiation needed in politics?
•What happened to the centrists? 
•What is the House of Representatives? 
•Are voters important for politics?
•Are politicians accountable to the public? 
•Why are people politically segregated?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780742551183
Pages to read:   160
Publication:     2006
1st Edition:      2006
Format:           Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          4
Overall           4

Friday, November 5, 2021

Review of The Collector by John Fowles

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel
Intriguing Connections = Some Type of Romance

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

Frederick is a lonely entomologist who had recently acquired money.  Although generally well off in his isolation, Miranda catches his thoughts.  Initially innocent, but grow into an obsessive love.  Frederick believes that the only way Miranda can learn to love him, is by forcing her to spend time with him.  That over time, the feelings will be reciprocated.  Because of the obsession, Frederick kidnaps Miranda.  The account of the situation is perceived from both perspectives.  Facilitating psychoanalysis as the book is written from the thoughts of both individuals.  Using philosophy on a vast array of diverse topics to question many social values.  Each character, in their own way, tries to teach morality but their assumptions about the meaning and intent of the other causes misunderstanding.  Assumptions about what it means to love, and be loved.


Problems?

The book has some difficult writing due to poor flow.  Not a very smooth read, as the transitions sometimes prevent an understanding of the events.  Reading about the story from each perspective allows for a more immersive story, as the values of each character are highlighted by what they choose to share, or not share.


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who is Frederick?
•How does Frederick get his money?
•Who is Miranda?
•Why does Frederick love Miranda?
•Why does Frederick kidnap Miranda?
•What does Miranda come to think of Frederick?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780316290234
Pages to read:   303
Publication:     1997
1st Edition:      1963
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           4

Monday, November 1, 2021

Review of Improbable Voices: A History of the World Since 1450 Seen From Twenty-Six Unusual Perspectives by Derek Dwight Anderson

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = History

Short Description

Excerpts

“What was once happily celebrated with patriotism is often viewed today with skepticism, hostility or embarrassment.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, A: Alfonso de Albuquerque, Page 24

“He argued that persecution of the Anabaptist only made them more stubborn, but that patient conversation and leniency would help them understand their theological errors and would produce civic peace.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, C: Wolfgang Fabricius Capito, Page 84

“These exchanges illustrate how much Ethiopians and Europeans had to learn about one another in the sixteenth century: so connected in some ways, yet so disparate in many others.” – Derek Dwight Anderson, E: Eleni, Page 125
Quotes with permission from the Author 

Elaborate Description

Overview:

This book might use 26 biographies of diverse individuals from around the world, but it is less about the individual and more about the time and situations around the individual.  Using the individual as a focus to look at a long history of events and ideas that have culminated to what the individual engages with.  To uncover how people lived.  To examine how people interacted with each other, and those of other cultures and regions.  Expressing from different perspectives how the different cultures approached each other, and understood or misunderstood the other’s culture.  The individuals through whose story history is experienced, come from various backgrounds.  Some are political, military, and social leaders, others are traders, doctors, and artists.  Rather than impose early 21st century values onto the decisions of people of the past, the author purposely sets decisions made against the values of their time.  Describing how those values came about.  


Problems?

The book is well written and becomes more detailed with later individuals.  Sometimes there are so many details presented about events, but they presented without much explaining on what they mean put together.  Theme of the details is consistent, but not obvious how they impacted the times the individual lived in.  

Each chapter tries to presents a different nation, and sometimes how they handled relations with other nations.  There are many interesting accounts of interactions with other nations, and then showcasing the other nation.  Seeing from different perspectives built a better understanding of the time, but those perspectives were rare.  Most of the book is separate accounts from different times.  Making it difficult to get a full picture of any particular culture throughout time.  But, this way of organizing history does make the reader curious about the particular cultures.  Further reading will be needed for any culture to be understood. 


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Who are the individuals used in the book?
•What are the different nations and cultures described in the book?
•Why not impose early 21st values on the people of the past?
•What was the outcome when different cultures interacted?
•How were the nations regulated internally? 
•Describe the culture’s social etiquette. 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9798640294163
Pages to read:   645
Publication:     2020
1st Edition:      2020
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5

Review of The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics, History

Short Description

Excerpts
“The power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind.  Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century.” – John Maynard Keynes, Introductory, Page 5

“The immense accumulation of fixed capital which, to the great benefit of mankind, were built up during the half century before the war.” – John Maynard Keynes, Europe before the war, Page 14

“To limit the population of Germany and weaken her economic system, is clothed, for the President’s sake, in the august language of freedom and international equality.” – John Maynard Keynes, The Conference, Page 35

Elaborate Description

Overview:

After the end of the First World War, the question was what to do with the defeated.  The Paris Peace Conference was meant to determine the solution.  John Maynard Keynes was an official representative, but had to resign from the position due to disapproval of the solutions, which were not going to be modified.  The treaty was set to impair the fragile organization and economic system already disrupted by the war.  Those who won the war, were abusing their power which would inevitably invite their destruction.  The actions of the winners were made to serve noble purposes and have moral support while making a caricature of the defeated who would have their population limited and economy weakened.  Reparation debt was to be so high as to make the numbers useless.  Resources extracted from would have prevented the defeated from using any, while limiting production in the winners’ nations.

Economic systems are very complicated and temporary, but people have a tendency to become habituated to their lifestyles.  The lifestyle of the Europe before the war was fairly pleasant, in which people could purchase what they needed to be delivered to their home, and travel to foreign places with ease.  Income inequality facilitated those who did not consume all their income, to invest it.  Creating massive improvement that helped everyone.  The instabilities before the war included excess population, inequality, and limited agriculture.   

Keynes uses psychology, history, and economics to make the case that the treaty had many flaws.  There is account of the proceeding and descriptions of the representatives.  


Problems?

Generally poorly written, but there are some sections from which insight could be gained.  Prescient for its time, and not that technical.  Containing a diverse set of insights about the treaty background and internal affairs, but needs to be edited.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•Why did John Maynard Keynes resign the post for the peace conference? 
•How was Europe before the war? 
•Describe the conferences representatives. 
•How did the winners treat the defeated?
•What was to be the punishment imposed on the defeated?
•What were the social problems with the treaty?
•What were the economic problems with the treaty? 
•Why did Keynes believe that the treaty was terrible?

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9788826017136
Pages to read:   166
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      1919
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    1
Content          2
Overall           2

Review of A Brief History of Perpetual Motion by Alf B. Meier

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Science, History

Short Description

Elaborate Description

Overview:

This is a very short book about the concept of perpetual motion.  A perpetual motion machine would allow humanity to produce energy without any inputs.  There are patents for it, with a long history of inventors who attempted to build it.  The problem is that the idea of perpetual motion breaks the first and second law of thermodynamics.  Energy cannot be created or destroyed, which means that no energy can be made using no energy.  For a machine to work, it will not only need inputs but also have heat loss due to entropy.  A source of the initial perpetual motion machine comes from India, reflecting the ever-turning wheel of reincarnation.  Potentially allegory rather than an actual wheel.  Later types of machines built relied on the available science and technology of the time.  The inventors attempting its construction are seen as fraudsters who quickly disappear.  


Problems?

The book is only a few pages, which means that the content is very limited.  It can inspire curiosity about the history of perpetual motion machines, and the science behind why it does not work out.  Containing some interesting insights.  


Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What is perpetual motion?
•What laws of thermodynamics does perpetual motion break?  Why does it break the laws?
•Why do inventors attempt to build a perpetual motion machine?
•What are some historic inventors attempting to build the machine? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  2940011298509
Pages to read:   5
Publication:     2011
1st Edition:      2011
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          2
Overall           2

Review of Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It by Ian Leslie

This review was written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Decision Making

Short Description

Elaborate Description
Overview:
Curiosity is curiously pleased with never being satisfied.  Curiosity can be very dangerous given its impulsiveness and unruliness.  Cultures that value order suppress curiosity, as questions can be disruptive.  Cultures that inspire curiosity, allow individuals to exceed their elder’s ideas.  Cultures pass on knowledge that can then be further pursued, and teaches skills needed to ask the questions that lead to more questions.  Curiosity makes overt the gaps in information, but to know that there is a gap requires a bit of knowledge.  Diverse curiosity is the beginning desire to know more.  For diverse curiosity to become useful, it needs to be transformed into epistemic curiosity which is directed and sustained effort to deepen knowledge and understanding.

A reason individuals become curious is because of an information gap.  A gap between what is known and what is not known.  Creating a desire to know.  Complete ignorance about a topic does not create curiosity about it.  Some knowledge is required to stimulate curiosity.  The bigger the knowledge base, the more curious a person becomes.  To be curious requires awareness of the gap in knowledge, while many people are overconfident about what they think they know.  

Culture allows individuals to learn from others.  Facilitating imitation, sharing, and improving.  Identity is built from the cultural knowledge learned.  Humans take a long time to grow up, but that also buys a lot of time to explore various courses of action without needing to commit.  To build various emotional capacities.  Children become curious about what others think after they realize that everyone does not think the same things.  As people age, there are more default decisions than there are questions about the decisions to be made.

Curiosity is unconsciously learned though culture.  Within cultures that require obedience and respect with the communication being functional, it reduces the ability of the individuals to ask questions for fear of being punished.  Cultures more secure in their basic needs have more time for questions, as they have resources for curiosity.

There are many claims for not forcing students to memorize facts, as students need to learn thinking skills.  The problem with those claims is that without guides to knowledge, children do not get far with their own curiosity. Difficult topics without instruction can be discouraging to learn.  Knowledge prepares the individual to learn.  Facts join other facts to make a network of understanding.  Direction facilitates understanding of the gaps in information.  Creativity via innovation and art occurs when the individuals have already applied effort to obtain a lot of vast knowledge base, which can then be used to when needed.  Innovation is a byproduct of unexpected collisions between knowledge and ideas.  

There are situations in which cultivating ignorance is more beneficial to cultivating knowledge.  Prejudice and discrimination can be reinforced by strategic ignorance.  Successful companies tend not to ask questions, because they are delivering what is working.  But their ignorance allows small companies to innovate by asking questions of what works, and provide alternatives. 

Curious individuals are more likely to apply effort to obtain experience, information, and challenge assumptions.  Not curious individuals tend to rely on others for explanations.  For collaborative projects, it is the curious who are more than happy to take on challenging tasks as they derive pleasure from their efforts.  Less curious individuals will slack their involvement and rely on others.  

What Technology Offers and Takes Away:
Computers know a lot of information, but are not themselves curious.  As curiosity requires effort, technology that eliminates effort can eliminate the curiosity that comes with it.  Easy access to information prevents deeper inquiry.  Patience and focused application are needed for deeper understanding, and is becoming more difficult with ready made answers from search engines.  Believing that everything can be found using technology, prevents learning the questions about the answers that are found.  The ready made answers allow people to accept happiness in not knowing. 

When information was scarce it threated curiosity because of a lack of information to be curious about.  But now curiosity is threatened by abundance of information.  Exploiting what has become known rather than exploring the unknown.  It is difficult to ask a search engine what the individual wants to learn.  Searching used to imply more questions after the initial question.  With technology, the questions end after entering the question into a search engine.  Without a need to remember something, it makes it harder to have collisions between ideas.  

Search engines point to most popular books and papers, which reduces the diversity of scholarship outcomes.  They are able to bypass other works using the hyperlinks.  Search engines efficiency in research has shrunk the scope for investigation.  Innovation is more difficult when everyone is relying on the same information using the same methods.  Connections becomes less original.  

Problems?
The book is easy to read.  The problem is that many of the concepts will be trivial to the already curious.  The already curious would have intuitively picked up on many of the key lessons.  What this book does is to make those informal lessons systematic.  Which does make curiosity easier to manage.  

Human ego gets in the way of understanding some topics.  There are many comparisons of the superiority of humans over animals in this book.  Comparisons that are factually wrong and take away from the general understanding.  Animals have culture and their own ways of handling their environment.  Their different ways appear to humans as inefficient, and maybe they are, but often times it is actually the best way the animal interacts with the world givens its capabilities.

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book
•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?
•What does it mean to be curious? 
•Why is knowledge required to be curious? 
•Why is there an information gap?
•What is the difference between diverse and epistemic curiosity? 
•What is the difference between puzzles and mysteries? 
•How do cultures influence curiosity? 
•How to build curiosity? 
•What do schools have to do with curiosity? 
•What does technology provide and take away?
•How does curiosity change with age? 
•Why become ignorant?  How is strategic ignorance used? 
•What are some differences between individuals who are curious, and individuals who are not curious? 

Book Details
Edition ISBN:  9780465056941
Pages to read:   185
Publication:     2014
1st Edition:      2014
Format:           eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5