Friday, July 29, 2022

Review of Japanese Culture: The Religious and Philosophical Foundations by Roger J. Davies

This review was written by Eugene Kernes  

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (09/24/2022)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Why Do People Think Differently?
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“Chinese influence was a persistent, increasing, and overwhelming factor of early Japanese life starting from the first century BC.” – Roger J. Davies, The Origins of the Japanese, Page 19


“The present is mirrored in the past, and the past exits in the present in the unconscious cultural heritage of a people, in the structure of their social and political institutions, and in the value systems they have created.” – Roger J. Davies, Approaches to Japanese Cultural History, Page 25-26


“Organizationally and ideologically, a number of religions have co-existed since ancient times, and they still remain separate and distinct systems.  On the other hand, when viewed from the participation of the individual, a merger or combination of religious beliefs seems to occur.” – Roger J. Davies, Approaches to Japanese Cultural History, Page 32


Review
Overview:
Japan’s geographical isolation inhibited development.  Although various ancient migrations made Japan a diverse place, claims would later describe them as a homogenous people.  Chinese influence propelled Japanese development.  Influence which was persistent, increasing, and overwhelming.  Japanese tribes began to forge a centralized state in response to military threats.  Power was concentrated within the military upper class. 

Various religions co-existed in Japanese history, although they remained separate and distinct systems.  In practice, individuals merged or combined the beliefs.  But even while holding multiple religious practices, they would not confuse their ideological associations.  Major cultural eras started with Shinto, then Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, Confucianism, and finally Western ideas.  Japanese culture, as every culture, is influenced by the past.  A heritage that is reflected in the social and political institutions, and value systems.  Creating different manifestations of culture over time, with distinct behavioral patterns and sets of belief.  

The influence of history is complex, for what is written down might not be what actually happened.  History is set down from different perspectives, and with a variety of interpretations.  Japanese culture is unique, like all cultures are unique.  Each culture has similar features, but they are combined in unique ways.  

Japanese Origin:
Geographically isolated meant that Japan could not obtain alternative ways of development.  Japanese life was rudimentary compared to China which was a highly developed civilization.  Within a relatively short time after entering the Bronze Age, Chinese influence propelled Japan into the Iron Age.  China was a major influence on Japan starting from the 1st century B.C.E. 

Japanese people are a composition of various waves of ancient migrations.  Those coming to Japan were fleeing problems from mainland Asia such as hunger, and fear.  Others desired change.  Primary migrants are thought to be Mongol tribes, coming through Korea.  Earliest Japanese religion of Shinto, was heavily influenced by Mongol peoples.  The migrants displaced Japanese archipelago original inhabitants, the Ainu.  During the waves of migration, there was racial and ethnic blending and fusion.  After the 8th century B.C.E., there was no new blood.  Even though the Japanese came from diverse groups, they began to consider themselves as racially distinct and ‘pure’ group.  

Records of earliest Japanese life comes from Chinese Han Dynasty of the 3rd century B.C.E.  During that time, Japan had sharp class distinctions.  Primarily an agricultural and fishing economy.  Many tribal units.  During the 3rd century, the military upper class appears to have concentrated wealth and power, in response to Korean mounted invaders.  State formation in Japan began during the Kofun era, of 250-646 B.C.E.  

Shinto:
Shinto forms the undercurrent of the religious and philosophical belief systems in Japan.  Shinto means “The Way of the Gods”.  Shinto is less about leading a moral or ethical life, but practical concerns of such obtaining food, curing illness, and avoiding dangers.

Within Shinto, every object harbors a spirit, making the object in some way living.  Human and nature are not divided.  They are not distinct or apart.  

Purification rites were needed in daily life.  Purification for the physical and spiritual.  Ritual was meant to obtain a pure state of mind, to make contact with kami and accept kami’s blessing.  Purification was also meant to avoid taboos, such as sources of uncleanness.  

Buddhism:
Buddhism seeks a midway between hedonism and asceticism.  Buddhism is very adaptable to the cultural traditions that already exist in a region.  The arrival of Buddhism was not seen as an extension of Chinese power, but of Buddhism’s progress.  

Taoism:
Taoism, along with Confucianism, are the main religious and philosophical traditions of China.  Law of Tao is a regression to the starting point.  Extreme qualities become reversed into their opposite.  Continuous adjustment to the situation.  What matters is the interaction between the factors involved.  A focus on ultimate unity of humans and cosmos. 

Zen:
Zen is a synthesis of Taoism and Buddhism, called Ch’an in China.  Zen incorporates Japanese traditions into Ch’an Buddhism.  It means meditation.  Unlike Buddhism, guidance and instruction are important.  Zen has Masters which train others.  Training provides the student with focused practice.  Instruction from a Master awakens the Buddha-nature in everyone.  

A philosophy that disdains study, and metaphysics.  Flashes of intuition arise from meditation.  

Confucianism:
Confucianism focuses on human society.  Social order based on strict ethical rules.  The social responsibility of societies members.  Defining what appropriate relationships and behaviors were allowed I the society.  Government of facility and state to me done by educated people of superior wisdom.

Western Influences:
Japan purposely isolated itself from the world early 17th century.  For the next two centuries, Japan became culturally homogenous.  Developing a national identity.  During this Edo period, there were four strict classes of warriors, peasants, artisans, and merchants.  Samurai became literate, as did other classes.  Samurai changed their activity to writing with brush, and away from using the sword.  Isolation is usually associated with cultural stagnation, but the peace and economic stability brought with it a cultural explosion. 

Being forced to open, Japan modernized government based on the West.  To acquire technical and bureaucratic skills, Japan sent students to Western schools while hiring Western experts.

Caveats?
It takes more than an understanding of culture to understand a peoples.  Lack of history and politics limits an understanding of Japanese people.  The transitions between philosophies and religions appear not to be disrupting.  Some practices influenced by the culture are described, but not in their diverse applications.  What this book does is provide the undercurrent understanding of the Japanese, but more information will be needed to apply the concepts appropriately. 


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 read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•How did China influence Japan?
•How did Japan’s geography influence development?
•What was Japan’s political circumstance?  How did Japanese state change and why?
•Who were the ancient migrants to Japan?
•What are Japanese religions and philosophies?
•How did the religions and philosophes interact with each other and how were they practiced?
•What is culture and what does culture influence?
•What is Shinto?
•What is Buddhism?
•What is Taoism?
•What is Zen?
•What is Confucianism?
•How did the West influence Japan?

Book Details
Publisher:         Tuttle Publishing [Periplus Editions]
Edition ISBN:  9784805311639
Pages to read:   148
Publication:     2016
1st Edition:      2016
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5






Monday, July 25, 2022

Review of America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy by Gar Alperovitz

This review was written by Eugene Kernes  

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Economics
Watch Review

Excerpts

“I mention these personal facts to underscore several critical aspects of the lessons of Youngtown – ad my reasons for writing a book that argues that it is not only necessary but possible to “change the system”” – Gar Alperovitz, Preface, Page vi


“We often ignore this truth, thinking that what counts is “the message” or “how issues are framed” for public consumption.  What ultimately counts is a coherent and powerful understanding of what makes sense, and why – and how what makes sense can be achieved in the real world.  By “coherent” I mean rigorous intellectually as well as politically” – Gar Alperovitz, Preface, Page ix


“The question is not the capacity of citizens to understand.  It is not even whether writers or thinkers take the time to explain themselves.  What opens people to making the effort is that they are forced to abandon the pose that politics doesn’t matter, and that ideas are irrelevant.” – Gar Alperovitz, Preface, Page xi

Review
Overview:
The capitalist system has produced many ailments such as increased inequality, and less freedom.  Changing the system is not only needed, but possible.  To change the system means accepting that politics and ideas are relevant factors.  Cannot avoid politics for during the 20th century, government has grown massively relative to the economy.  But national policy is no longer enough for large scale problems, while are too large for small problems.  Municipal, local governments are dominated by local business communities.  Decision makers in those communities have influence over policies, which makes it important who the shareholders are.  Many businesses have become employee-owned.  With direct ownership of outcomes, workers work much harder and with more enthusiasm.  

Caveats?
Some explanations are assumed rather than explained why they matter.  A lot of statistics are provided, but not their impact on social organization.  Claims sometimes lack complexity and political understanding, with the simplifications making the favored claims appear much better without negative consequences.  The simplifications are sometimes also given a moral argument, which makes anyone who opposes the claims or considers complexity appear amoral.  

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 read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•Why is there a need change the capitalist system?
•What are the alternatives to the capitalist system?
•How the capitalist system be changed?
•Why cannot politics be avoided?
•What is the impact of government?
•How can democracy be improved?
•What happens when the employees own the business?

Book Details
Publisher:         John Wiley & Sons
Edition ISBN:  9780471790020
Pages to read:   251
Publication:     2005
1st Edition:      2005
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall           2



Friday, July 22, 2022

Review of Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner

This review was written by Eugene Kernes  

Book can be found in:
Genre = Philosophy, Epistemology
Book Club Event = Book List (09/03/2022)
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“The fact is that solving problems is hard.  If a given problem still exists, you can bet that a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it.  Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger.  Furthermore, it takes a lot of time to track down, organize, and analyze the data to answer even one small question well.” – Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner, Chapter 1: What Does It Mean to Think Like a Freak?, Page 11 


“But a lot of obvious ideas are only obvious after the fact – after someone has taken the time and effort to investigate them, to prove them right (or wrong).  The impulse to investigate can only be set free if you stop pretending to know answers that you don’t.  Because the incentives to pretend are so strong, this may require some bravery on your part.” – Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner, Chapter 2: The Three Hardest Words in the English Language, Page 42


“An opponent who feels his argument is ignored isn’t likely to engage with you at all.  He may shout at you and you may shout back at him, but it is hard to persuade someone with whom you can’t even hold a conversation.” – Steven D. Levitt, and Stephen J. Dubner, Chapter 8: How to Persuade People Who Don’t Want to Be Persuaded, Page 128


Review
Overview:
While easy problems are evanescent, complex problems have evasive complex solutions.  Resolving even small problems well requires a lot of time and effort.  Rather than delegate thinking to the authors, to others, this book is a guide on how to approach problems.  Rather than make a case for any particular way to resolve problems, the object is to think differently.  There are many cultural inhibitors to challenging prior ideas, and acknowledging a lack of knowledge.  But learning anything requires admitting to what is not yet known.  There is a lot of uncertainty and lack of knowledge about the causes of complex problems that have multidimensional cause-and-effects with distant outcomes.  With such complexity, money tends to be spent on the symptoms rather than the root cause.  With such complexity, many claim that they know more about resolutions to complex problems than they actually know.  Need to experiment and approach the problems differently, to get feedback on potential alternative.  Facts are not enough for socially complex problem, as judgement is needed to consider the meaning of the facts, and what to do.

The book stems from an economic understanding.  The economic approach applies to many of life’s challenges and facilitates concern for resource allocation.  The approach incorporates incentives, finding what to measure and how to measure it appropriately, questioning accepted ideas, and that correlation is not causality.  When private and socially responsible benefits are in conflict, people tend to follow their incentives and choose private benefits over the socially responsible benefits.  To make effect policy changes, policy makes need to align private benefits with social benefits.  Incentives can backfire as there will be those who scheme against any incentive plan.  People are different, and will respond differently to the same incentives.  Financial incentives are not enough to motivate people.  Although difficult, need to understand how people will respond to given incentive changes.  

Everyone has biases, moral or otherwise.  The ask of the book is not to remove the moral righteousness, but to understand that they influence judgement.  Even people of intelligence normally seek confirming evidence, rather than evidence that challenges their claims.  This is problematic because responding to the challenges makes claims more robust.  Many views are accepted because the individual resonates with them, rather than look for other problems that might be important, or small.  Those who are heavily invested in their ideas, will not want to change their mind.  To argue with someone, acknowledge their strengths.  Recognizing the oppositions strengths can be used to learn how to improve ideas, and makes the opponent feel heard. 

Even experts claims and predictions about complex problems are only about half right, as the other half is proved false.  Massive overconfidence in the answers causes a lot of the problems with the claims, especially after disproving evidence of the answers.  Having lots of knowledge in a single area, does not make the knowledge useful in other areas.  Faking ability and not recognizing knowledge limitations can lead to disaster.  Within certain contexts, such as school, faking and pretending knowledge does not have much of a cost.  But policies have a lot of social costs, in which faking and pretending cause.

Pretending knowledge has damaging consequences, but is done for various reasons.  One reason is that there are higher costs on the individual to claim a lack of knowledge, than the cost of being wrong.  There are many social pressures and demands on people to know more than they actually do within complex fields.  The people who made the wrong claims, tend to leave before their errors are found.  In many cases, bad predictions go unpunished.  Unpunished bad predication incentivizes more bad predications.  

Complex problems make it difficult to obtain appropriate feedback.  Learning needs feedback.  With feedback, more information about the problems and potential resolutions can be found.  Information that can be used to adjust forthcoming behavior.  A way to get more information through feedback is by applying known facts to experiments.  There are many reasons why experimentation is inhibited such as sticking to tradition, or lack of expertise to run an experiment.  A large reason for a lack of experimentation, is that experimentation requires someone to admit that they do not know and ask for that information.  

Experimentation leads to more information, but experiments are not created equal.  Experiments that take place in controlled environments, do not reflect well the complexity of the actual situations.  Natural experiments are uncommon because it is difficult to even consider making randomized large scale social policy changes.  But when natural experiments do happen, even without purposeful direction, the feedback provides quality information.   

Certain questions have often been asked, and their answers are normalized but do not satisfy as solutions to problems.  Responses change depending on how a question is asked.  Asking a question differently cause people to look for answers in different places, and seek different information.  Redefining the problem leads to discovery of alternative solutions.  Good practice to get as many possible ideas for resolution, but not all ideas are good in practice.  Many ideas appear great in the moment, but have many unconsidered flaws.  Pausing and thinking before implementation of the ideas, can filter the ideas. 

Solutions to symptoms are easier to understand and undertake, which causes a lot of money to be spent on the symptoms.  The problem is that the symptoms will reoccur if the root of the problem is not resolved.  But the root of the problem can be hard to find, especially with complex problems.  Better to favor small problems because they are more manageable, can be resolved, and have appropriate feedback.  As small problems are rarely investigated, there is lots of to learn.  

Caveats?
As the book asks to think differently about assumptions, the basic economic assumptions within this book also need to be rethought.  As there are many social sanctions against thinking differently, and against experimentations, some practical guidance to encourage those practices would have been valuable.  The stated reasons for the inhibitions do create an understanding on what the problem is, which might inspire thoughts about their resolutions.  

The focus is on thinking differently as that is assumed to improve situations.  The problem is that there can be various advantageous reasons for normal behaviors, traditions, and cultural aspects.  Useful unstated reasons for having certain assumptions and behaviors.


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 read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•Why think differently? 
•What is complicated about complex problems?
•What is difficult about claiming a lack of knowledge?
•How do people learn?
•How to get appropriate feedback?
•What prevents experimentation?
•What are incentives? 
•Why consider smaller problems rather than large problems?
•How to convince someone?
•What makes someone biased?
•What happens to unpunished bad predictions?
•What questions should be asked about questions?
•How did King Solomon perform trials?
•How to filer people’s motivations?


Book Details
Publisher:         William Morrow [HarperCollins Publishers]
Edition ISBN:  9780062218360
Pages to read:   140
Publication:     2014
1st Edition:      2014
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5


Monday, July 18, 2022

Review of How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine ... for Now by Stanislas Dehaene

This review was written by Eugene Kernes  

Book can be found in:
Genre = Psychology
Book Club Event = Book List (08/20/2022)

Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“While error feedback is essential, many children lose confidence and curiosity because their errors are punished rather than corrected.  In schools worldwide, error feedback is often synonymous with punishment and stigmatization.” – Stanislas Dehaene, Introduction, Page 23


“Learning allows our brains to grasp a fragment of reality that it had previously missed and to use it to build a new model of the world.” – Stanislas Dehaene, Chapter 1: Seven Definitions of Learning, Page 32


“Converging results from diverse fields suggest that a passive organism learns little or nothing.  Efficient learning means refusing passivity, engaging, exploring, and actively generating hypotheses and testing them on the outside world.” – Stanislas Dehaene, Chapter 8: Active Engagement, Page 191


Review
Overview:
From birth, the brain is equipped with a lot knowledge and the capacity to learn.  Nature, known as genetics, provides the infrastructure for the brain to learn, but the content of what is learned depends on nurture such as culture, and interactions with others.  Evolution is a slow process of adaptation, but evolution provided the capacity to learn.  Learning enables quick adaptation to unpredictable conditions.  Learning is how the external world becomes represented in an internal model.  Updating the model when needed.  New experiences change how the brain organizes itself.  Synapses constantly change, reflecting what is learned.  Learning can be accelerated or inhibited depending on the context.  Learners need focused attention, active engagement, error feedback, and cycles of consolidation.  Learning is a discovery and updating process which depends on how a culture treats curiosity and opportunities to learn. 

The Brain:
The brain is far more detailed than the blueprints to build it.  It would be impossible to code all information into the brain, so learning needs to supplement genes.  Even the most simple of life’s creatures that have a brain, learn by habituation and association.  Habituation learning is adaption to stimulus.  Association learning is predictions based on prior information discoveries.  

Even with limitations such as blindness or other brain impairments, individuals are capable of developing normal capacities, and using them with great dexterity.  Brain dynamic of recycling means to reorient functions without genetic modification.  Learning and education recycle functions.  The brain appears to need room for more complex thoughts.  Some functions become impaired.

As some environment information is the same throughout generations, evolution makes them predictably.  Alternately, evolution makes some parameters change rapidly to adjust to volatile environmental aspects.  

Babies are born with considerable knowledge inherited by evolutionary process.  Nature and nurture are not opposites.  Each rely on the other.  Learning takes place within innate constraints.  Learning does not start from nothing as learning uses many prior assumptions.  The a priori hypotheses are used in obtaining meaning, and seeing what works best given the environment.   Even from an early age, humans are capable of computing many abstract ideas and can access abstract institutions which enable higher learning.  
 
Memory is a reconstruction.  Memory is based on contact between two neurons.  The more the related neurons fire together, the more they are wired together.  Memory vanishes without retesting of knowledge.  Long-term memory is based on testing the material, rather than just studying it.

The brain needs more than just intellectual stimulation, it takes a appropriate nutrition, oxygenation, and physical exercise.  Brain development requires exposing to various stimulus to make it flexible, otherwise the brain won’t develop the circuits.  During childhood, the brain is overhauling its organization quickly, by either creating or eliminating synapses.  This quick change also explains a large reason for childhood sensitivity periods.  
  
Learning:
What is seen are the projections that the brain has made meaningful from the flow of data.  Learning uses previously missed information to change the internal model.  Knowing what to learn to update the model. 

New observations update thoughts in a probabilistic manner.  A gradual rejection of false hypotheses, and maintenance of more rigorous hypotheses.  Considers a myriad of ways to express the internal model, then utilizing that which incorporates the most data of the external world.  The best fit for the state of external world. 

Sometimes learning can get stuck.  No options to do better seem to exist.  Changes seem counterproductive, as they increase errors.  Although better outcomes are possible, they are too far to be understood.  

Convolutional neural networks learn faster and better because they generalize information.  What was learned can be applies elsewhere.

Humans learn from each other.  Even a single experience, a single trial, can bring about new understandings.  Trying to learn more and more abstract rules, so that as many observations fit into the rule.  While the brain creates a lot of meaning from very little data, machines need a lot of data to make some meaning.  For computers, learning is difficult because there are so much data and possibilities to explore.  Hard to select what to focus on.  Artificial systems have a hard time learning abstract concepts, are not data-efficient, lack social learning, and lack composition.

Pillars of Learning:
To extract as much information from the environment, evolution created functions that facilitated learning.  Stability requires all four functions.  The functions are attention, active engagement, error feedback, and consolidation.

Attention amplifies focus.  Attention is how the brain selections information, amplifies it, channels it, and deepens its processing.  Decides when, what, and how to attend to information.  Paying attention, also means choosing what to ignore.  Directing attention means to choose, filter, and select.  Without attention, students cannot perceive the teachers lesson, therefor cannot learn.  Attention can be misdirected, which inhibits learning.  

Active engagement encourages curiosity and experimentation.  Active exploration of the world.  Passive organisms learn little or nothing.  To learn, the brain needs to form hypothetical ideas of the outside world, and then then test them.  Passive or distracted students do not benefit from lessons, because their brains are not updating their models of the world.  Only by actively following the course is information learned.  Teachers aid in pedagogical progression, to guide student learning.  Students do not learn much without guidance.  But do need a structured learning environment with strategies for active engagement.

Error feedback corrects predictions of the world.  Learning from mistakes is a popular form of learning.  Every error is an opportunity to learn.  Error reduction through feedback.  Feedback that explains how to improve.  Discovering errors enables correcting errors.  Quality and accuracy of feedback influence speed of learning.  Without a surprise, there is no learning.  Prediction error is needed to learn.  Error feedback is not punishment.  Many children are punished or stigmatized for errors, and learn not to be curious to reduce errors.  Errors should be corrected rather than punished. 

Consolidation makes learned behaviors automatic, and involves sleep.  Consolidation frees up mental energy for other purposes.  Automation reduces the mental strain of an activity, allowing the mental bandwidth to be used elsewhere.  Sleep is not inactivity, or just waste disposal.  Brain remains active during sleep.  Sleep goes over what was learned during the day, and gradually transfers it into an efficient compartment in memory.  Sleep quality and quantity depends on how much was learned, as the more learned means more sleep is needed.  During sleep, new information is not absorbed.  Sleep makes discoveries more abstract and general.  
 
Caveats?
Most of the information is about childhood learning, because childhood is a time of major brain development.  The focus on childhood learning leaves out implications for adult learning.  What does learning mean for adults?  Childhood learning implications might not relate well to adult learning.  

Error punishment during school is a major inhibitor of learning for children.  But even adults are punished for errors, and there can be a lot of social sanctions against learning.  Non-childhood learning inhibitors are missing, but that does incentivize considering how cultures can facilitate or inhibit learning.  

Artificial Intelligence or machine learning, is explained in the book, but as a contrast to human learning.  Highlighting how humans learn by expressing the limitations of machines.  Machine learning is a feature of the book, but is not prominent.  

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 read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•What are the limits of evolution?
•Why do we learn?
•Nature versus nurture?
•What is the brain’s infrastructure?  
•What happens during brain impairments?
•What is learning?
•What has changed in understanding the brain?
•What are some myths of learning? 
•What prevents people from learning? 
•What facilitates learning?
•What is the brain capable of from birth? 
•How does the brain develop during childhood?
•What is memory?
•How to maintain a brain?
•How does the brain develop circuits?
•What changes does complex thoughts have on the brain?
•How do people interact with the world?
•What happens with new observations?
•How can learning get stuck?
•What is convolution neural networks?
•What are limitations to machine learning?
•Why is attention needed for learning?
•Why is active engagement needed for learning?
•Why is error feedback needed for learning?
•Why is consolidation needed for learning?
•Why is do people sleep?
•What is adversarial learning? 

Book Details
Publisher:         Penguin Books [Penguin Random House]
Edition ISBN:  9780525559894
Pages to read:   263
Publication:     2021
1st Edition:      2018
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5

Monday, July 11, 2022

Review of Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See

This review was written by Eugene Kernes  

Book can be found in:
Genre = Writing
Watch Review

Excerpts

“Sneak up on your material.  Don’t go crashing after it through the forest with a machete.  Sit down, be quiet, let the material catch up with you.” – Carolyn See, Chapter 2: What’s Your Material?, Page 19


“The implication was that there was a serious apprenticeship, even for reading, to say nothing of the one for writing, and that to pressure to write something down took an enormous leap of both faith and pride.” – Carolyn See, Chapter 6: Hang Out with People Who Support Your Work, Page 62


“When you have something in print, even if it’s a recipe for heirloom tomato aspic, you’ve bought a ticket in immortality’s lottery.  Part of you is floating in another universe, and until every last copy of whatever-it-is, is burned, smashed, and gone, you, are, because of that little scrap, not bound by the rules of time” – Carolyn See, Chapter 9: Getting Published, Part 1 Page 102


Review
Overview:
Writing is a major commitment.  Writing is a creative act, which tends to destabilize structure and norms.  Best to keep what is being written secret, at least until its ready for publication.  Otherwise, it might arouse suspicion or other unneeded feedback.  

Writing is about writing, and what it needs are words written down.  Its good practice to make it a habit to write close to everyday.  Not necessary write the whole day, but words need to go unto a page.  Writing needs the author to find the author’s own voice, and material.  Using mostly what is known, the experiences and people that are familiar, to shape the world within the book.  Knowing what ideas and thoughts to stay away from, is just as important.  After having written the book, to revise the book.  Seeing what is missing, and what can improve the flow of the writing.  

Even if the content is great, does not mean people will read it, or understand it.  Even after finishing the book, there is still more work to do to get people to read the book.  Before and after publishing, the author is required to market their own work.  Convincing people to read the book.  The people who the author can ask to read and review the book, is everyone.  Finding belonging with people who support the author’s writing is needed not just for morale, but also because those people would be more willing to read the book.  

Caveats?
The advice is mainly for fiction writing, which might not easily transfer to non-fiction writing.  Some of the advice that helped the author, may not help other authors.  Need to personalize the advice to make it useful.  Most of the advice is relevant no matter the era, but some of the advice is no longer relevant.
  
Language is explicit.  Which may provide humor, or can distract from the advice.  Another potential distraction are the personal references.  This book is filled with many personal references, mainly to make the case that the personal references are the sources that any author should use.  The references are sometimes useful to understanding the context, sometimes distracting.  



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 some limitations of the book?
•Why do people choose to write?
•Who should know about author’s writing?
•What writing practices should an author have?
•How does an author find the author’s voice?
•What use is revising in writing?
•Why do author’s need to market their own work?
•Who supports the author?

Book Details
Publisher:         Ballantine Books [Penguin Random House]
Edition ISBN:  0345440463
Pages to read:   264
Publication:     2002
1st Edition:      2002
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3




Friday, July 8, 2022

Review of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

This review was written by Eugene Kernes 

Book can be found in:
Genre = Sociology
Book Club Event = Book List (08/06/2022)
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“Though Aryan himself, his openness to the humanity of the people who had been deemed beneath him gave him a stake in their wellbeing, their fates tied to his.  He could see what his countrymen chose not to see.” [Source Italics] – Isabel Wilkerson, The Man in the Crowd, Page 11


“As we fill out the pages of our medical past and our current complaints, what our bodies have been exposed to and what they have survived, it does no good to pretend that certain ailment shave not beset us, to deny he full truth of what brought us to this moment.  Few problems have ever been solved by ignoring them.” [Source Italics] – Isabel Wilkerson, The Vitals of History, Page 24


“A caste system is an artificial construction, a fixed and embedded ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of ancestry and often immutable traits, traits that would be neutral in the abstract but are ascribed life-and-death meaning in a hierarchy favoring the dominant caste whose forebears designed it.” – Isabel Wilkerson, Chapter Two: An Old House and an Infrared Light, Page 28


Review
Overview:
A caste system creates divisions and hierarchy.  Caste ranks human values.  Pits the presumed supremacy of one group, against the presumed inferiority of another.  Caste systems are socially constructed.  They are a social infrastructure that maintains itself by giving people subconscious instructions.  Members keep to arbitrary boundaries, and keep to their assigned roles.  Unlike class which is a malleable social standing depending on socioeconomic status.  Caste is usually immutable and based on ancestry.  Caste assigns meaning to people, and the roles they are permitted or required to perform.  Caste systems determine power, resource allocation, and many psychological attributes.

The social problems of caste cannot be resolved by avoiding them.  Ignoring the past does not reduce its impact on the present.  Social problems have historic precedents, which need to be understood to consider how to resolve them.  Even though the inheritors of the caste system might not have created the problem or participated in persecution, they are still responsible for the problems, to prevent further deterioration, and find resolutions.    

Hierarchy, and its Maintenance:
Caste can take on many forms.  Assigning power based on where the individual is from, the individual’s religion, or even race.  The focus of this book is on race.  Human hierarchies are older than race divisions.  Race hierarchies are relatively new. Race was proven a fiction by DNA.  Race is a social construct, that is held as a sacred truth.  

The meaning of racism has been eroded.  Racism is seen as an overt expression of hatred against another group based on race.  The problem caused by having this narrow view of racism, prevents considering the toxic behaviors that form racism.  Racism are the experienced toxic behaviors and social instruction gathered over life.  Exposing individual racist acts or people distracts from considering the system that created the individual.  

Within a racial caste, purity determines status.  Depending on the classification of how pure the ancestry should be, determines admittance to the dominant caste.  With the Unites States, even a little bit of impurity would disqualify someone from the dominant caste.

Rather than give negative characteristics to individuals, it is much easer to stigmatize a group.  Group stigmatization results in loss of individuality.  To continue stigmatization, all it takes is silence by those who disagree.  Rewarding those who participate in providing terror.

A stigma used against lower caste members is to make them appear polluted.  That contact with the lower caste can pollute the upper caste.  Much of the pollution or dirtiness came from the type of work that ancestors did.  

When the lower caste starts to succeed, it creates a violent backlash.  Success is not an assigned role of the lower caste.  Myths of superiority are given to upper caste members.  Who will do not permit lower caste member achievements, to prevent appearance of equality. 

To survive, the lower caste members need to become experts in understanding the behavior and thoughts of the upper caste members.  They must learn to adjust themselves to the upper caste expectations.  

Even without physical violence, the caste system can still hurt lower caste members.  Psychological attacks, such as prejudice, can cause many physical reactions that increases the risk of premature death. 

Comparisons:
India, Nazi Germany, and United States are three caste systems that are provided and compared with.  Focusing mainly on United States caste systems.

Race is how American caste system assigns power.  Before race, religion defined power.  Christianity defined status, privileging those coming from Europeans.  The native population formed the lower caste and forced to work, while the Europeans were exempt.  As the native population proved difficult to enslave, the colonists imported Africans.  When slavery was ending, laws were created to keep the lower caste members in their status.  Breaching the caste system meant danger, and even death.  An American paradox of proclaiming liberty for all, while holding subsets of citizens in subjugation.

India’s caste system is based on surnames.  Bound to a belief in reincarnation that the one’s circumstance is based on prior life’s deeds.  

Nazis looked to the United States for guidance on racial separation and purity.  

Difficulty of Resolutions:
Within caste systems, there are consequences to belonging to different groups.  Understanding the humanity of the lower caste, means not being able to avoid recognizing the harm done to them.  This recognition is seen as a defect by the upper caste members.  Upper caste members can persecute their member who shows sympathy with the lower caste members.  

It is very difficult to stand against the group that is persecuting others.  Standing against injustice has consequences, such as scorn from society.  

Identifying offenders will not actually stop the underlying problem.  Need to address the causes of the underlying behavior.

Forgiveness can be seen as absolution for problems.  Even though the problems keep continuing, forgiveness is being asked of.

Caveats?
The book is polarizing.  Historic events and institutions are simplified.  The details left out would have provided a more complex understanding of the situation.  The details that are kept, are those that make the argument against the upper caste appear stronger.  Making nearly all upper caste members appear to be persecuting others with hatred, while the lower caste members appear mostly innocent. 

The focus on negative reinforcement of caste, perpetuates negative values.  The author makes the case that creating an understanding that lower caste members have value is a resolution to the caste system, but there are not many positive values provided.   The showcased experiences of lower caste individuals, are all negative.  But, lower caste individuals have a lot of diverse experiences, not all of which are negative.

To end the caste system, the main solution appears to be enlightenment.  For the upper caste people to become enlightened, they need an understanding that difference caste individuals have value.  This is problematic because it appears that only the upper caste individuals need enlightenment.  Every individual, no matter the caste, can become enlightened and understand that others have value.  Each individual can do a lot to improve social situations.

Communication is needed for the different caste members to understand each other’s values.  And the author asks to listen to other caste members.  The problem is that this is not simple.  As the author points out, that given the sensitivity of the topic, many will pretend that there is no need to discuss the topic because they are not part of the problem.  But there is more to the reason why it is difficult to talk about topic, as often it is neither side which wants to allow the other side to speak.  In many contexts, the discussions stop when complexity is introduced.  When the other side expresses experiences or history that the other side denies.  Ending discussions with more prejudice.  Discussion and communication are needed to resolve the divisions and conflicts that exist, but that require a willingness of each side to listen and engage with the other side, rather than just dismiss their views.  

Within the book, everything is seen through a racial perspective.  There are other reasons than just race.  Which the author recognizes, but does not provide the other reasons.  From politics, to individual behaviors, everything appears to be just about race.  Alternative explanations are not really considered.

There are many groups that faced racial discrimination in the United States, but the focus is mainly on Black experiences.  There is a lack of information about how other groups handled the discrimination.  Considering how other groups overcame or did not overcome racial discrimination, can provide guidance as to how Black individuals can overcome racial discrimination.  

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 some limitations of the book?
•What is a caste system?
•What is the difference between caste and class?
•How does a caste system sustain itself?
•What are the difference types of caste systems?
•What is race?
•What is racism?
•How to resolve the social problems created by caste?
•How does effective stigmatization work?
•What happens to those who disagree with the caste system?
•What happens to those who step outside their roles with the caste system?
•What does it mean to become enlightened? 
•What impact does identifying offenders have?
•How to forgive? 
•Why does caste create scapegoats?
•What is the significance of statues? 

Book Details
Publisher:         Random House [Penguin Group]
Edition ISBN:  9780593230268
Pages to read:   371
Publication:     2020
1st Edition:      2020
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           4





Monday, July 4, 2022

Review of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss

This review was written by Eugene Kernes 

Book can be found in:
Genre = Economics, Behavioral
Book Club Event = Book List (07/23/2022)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Why Conflict Occurs And How To Resolve Them?
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“The first step to achieving a mastery of daily negotiation is to get over your aversion to negotiating.  You don’t need to like it; you just need to understand that’s how the world works.  Negotiating does not mean browbeating or grinding someone down.  It simply means playing the emotional game that human society is set up for.  In this world, you get what you ask for; you just have to ask correctly.  So claim your prerogative to ask for what you think is right.” – Chris Voss, Chapter 1: The New Rules, Page 21


“In negotiation, each new psychological insight or additional piece of information revealed heralds a step forward and allows one to discard one hypothesis in favor of another.  You should engage the process with a mindset of discovery.  Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible.  Which, by the way, is one of the reasons that really smart people often have trouble being negotiators – they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover.” – Chris Voss, Chapter 2: Be a Mirror, Page 26


“In every negotiation, in every agreement, the result comes from someone else’s decision.  And sadly, if we believe that we can control or manage other’ decisions with compromise and logic, we’re leaving millions on the table.  But while we can’t control others’ decisions, we can influence them by inhibiting their world and seeing and hearing exactly what they want.” – Chris Voss, Chapter 4: Beware “Yes” – Master “No”, Page 74


Review
Overview:
This book provides tools and techniques of negotiation from the experience of FBI negotiations.  Which used to focus on brute force and logic, but changed to focus on the emotional aspects of the negotiation.  Changed because of the actual experiences within tense negotiations, crisis negotiations.  Discovering what worked, and rectifying what did not work with an iterative process.  The developed negotiation techniques apply to more than just the FBI, as life is full of negotiations.  

Many negotiation techniques are provided, but they would be useless without listening.  Listening is a very active activity, not a passive activity.  Listening is such a difficult task, that rather than use a negotiator, the FBI uses a team of negotiators.  Each has their own biases and distractions.  Listening is a skill that demonstrates that the counterpart is being understood and accepted.  The focus is on the counterpart, which facilitates discovery of more information.  Information with which an advantage can be gained.  There are different ways to get the information, and use the information.

Within interactions between those who want sometimes from each other, negotiation is a prominent tool.  A tool used to gather information, and influence behavior.  Societies have set up negotiation as the cultural way of getting what someone wants.  It is by playing the emotional game that someone obtains social advantages.  There is no need to like negotiation, but there is a need to get used to negotiation. 
 
Negotiators are decision architects using verbal and nonverbal elements to gain consent and execution.  Have to analyze the entire negotiation space, by making sure that all counterparts are known and their views are considered.  Negotiation works best with a curiosity mindset.  Seeking to discover psychological insights and more information.  Searching for the pieces of knowledge outside normal expectations.  Those discoveries reveal different ways to approach the negotiation, and provide alternative ways that can be better.  The negotiator needs to continuously adjust perception, rather than try to fit reality to their own biases and forgone conclusions.  Needs to recognize flawed versions of the situation, and then seek to rectify the understanding.  

Changing Negotiation Styles:
Before 1971, FBI negotiations were about brute force.  Talking until a way to physically incapacitate the wrong doers became possible.  Pretending to negotiate, until force became possible.  But after a series of very public mistakes, the FBI was forced to change.  Needing to actually negotiate, rather than violence as the modus operandi.  

The negotiation style was based on problem-solving.  A logic approach to the handling counterparties.  The FBI used the approach which had four aspects.  1) Separate emotions from the problem.  2) Find out the underlying reason for the claimed wants.  3) Cooperate for win-win options.  4) Evaluate options using mutually agreed-upon standards.

The problem with the logical approach, was that the situations the FBI was in, did not present themselves in a way that would make the approach possible.  Rather than logic being central within the bargaining interactions, the situations were dynamic, uncertain, emotional, and without clear demands.  This caused a change in the approach, from pure logical sequence of events, to an emotional understanding.  Creating emotional negotiating skills.  

Emotions became central to effective negotiation, rather than something to overcome.  From there, psychological tactics and strategies were sought to create an emotional understanding between the negotiator and the counterpart.  To not only calm erratic emotions, but to build trust and verbalize needs.  A set of skill sets considered tactical empathy.  

Negotiating Strategies and Tactics:
Decisions are influenced by emotions.  Emotions override logic.  Tradition held that negotiators separate the emotion from the problem, because emotions are an obstacle to the outcome.  The problem is that emotions are the problem, especially under tense situations.  Communication becomes difficult under emotions.  Figuring out how to calm emotions, and keep oneself calm, is needed for negotiation.  Controlling one’s own emotions is a prerequisite for influencing counterpart’s emotions. 

Tactical empathy uses listening as a martial art.  Combining emotional intelligence and influence skills to understand another person.  It is a way to think from their perspective, from their point of view.  To assess their state of mind, and react accordingly.  What is needed is an understanding of the counterpart’s feelings and mindset, but also to hear the meaning behind the feelings.  Giving attention to emotional obstacles, means finding alternative pathways and increases influence.  To obtain that information, require the negotiator to be silent, and wait for a response.  Silence is a skill and part of listening.  

Empathy is not about agreeing with the counterpart, it is about understanding them.  Trying to understand the counterpart’s situation, and the reasons for their claims and actions.  Knowing their reasons, provides access to what can change their behavior.  Everyone has biases.  Understanding the unspoken needs and thoughts provide information that can be used to leverage to change counterpart’s views.

Labelling an emotion gives it validity.  Giving validity signifies identification with what and how the person feels.  Labelling is difficult and can be emotional intensive.  It is not about assuming the feelings are actually true, but a way to find how the individual feels. 

Within a negotiation, the parties try to build trust with one another.  What reduces trust is when people feel they are not being heard.  Which happens when the negotiation is proceeding to fast.  Being in a hurry when negotiating risks the built trust.

People mirror each other, imitate each other, for comfort.  People sync when they mirror each other, as a way of bonding.  Mirroring can be done through a variety of human behaviors and ways of speaking.  Mirroring in a negotiating can mean something as simple as repeating what was said, even something said at the end.  This triggers mirroring in the counterpart, as the counterpart will elaborate on what was said.  Elaboration means that the counterpart is sustaining the process of connecting.

Active resistance leads to showdown.  Unbelief is active resistance.  Suspending their unbelief can be done by asking for help.  Which gives the counterpart the illusion of control.  Their control, contains them.  A way to provide the illusion of control is to ask open ended questions, calibrated questions.  Those without a fixed response.  Open ended questions give more time for the negotiator.  Questions that can be used to inform, rather than cause conflict by telling.

Need to use the perspective of the counterpart, rather than one’s own.  Treat counterparts the way they want to be treated.   Use the counterpart’s worldview to an advantage.  Embed wanted claims within their worldview.  Cannot control counterpart’s decisions, but can influence them.  Positively affirming the counterparts’ views.  People who have difference information appear to be wrong, or worse, in discussion with those who hold different information.  Supplying information when needed and discovering the information asymmetries are needed for appropriate negotiations.  

Getting to a “yes” in a negotiation might be beneficial, but most of the time, the way the “yes” comes about, is through a question in which the “yes” is meaningless.  “Yes” itself does not provide much value.  Alternatively, “no” is great for negotiations.  “No” informs what is not wanted.  Used to maintain control.  “No” provides context within which to readjust and reconsider.  Creating a context in which ‘yes’ is meaningful.  Allowing for “no” as an answer, provides for a collaborative environment.  

Win-win approaches do not always work.  Especially when negotiating with someone who has a win-lose approach.  Compromise can be ineffective and disastrous.  Compromising is easy, which is why it is usually done.  Rather, creating solutions can be better, but carry risks that most are not willing to take.

Caveats?
There are contradictions within some of the claims, and that culture has a role in defining how some techniques can be used.  

The title’s advice to never split the difference, can be seen as an extreme.  But it comes from considering the consequences of various compromises.  Thinking of the compromises that had negative effects, while not considering the compromises that improved the situation.  Within this book, compromises are actually used within negotiating, but are made to appear as if they are not compromises in their outcomes.  

Power dynamic is undisclosed undercurrent.  Even when the FBI was not negotiating properly, they still had a lot of power to get what they wanted as the outcome.  Better negotiating skills facilitated better outcomes, but even those skills were backed by power.  Negotiating elsewhere, still requires understanding of the distribution of power.  The book provides some references to powerless situations, in which power dynamics shift and the negotiators took advantage of the change in power dynamic.  

The book provides a lot of practice and techniques to manipulate others, and can prepare negotiators not to be manipulated in the same manner.  But if everyone reads the book, the advantage disappears.  Much like how the author practiced, got better, and gained an understanding to negotiation.  Others can do the same.  

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 some limitations of the book?
•Can FBI negotiation techniques be used elsewhere?
•What is negotiation used for?
•How did FBI negotiations change?
•What is listening used for?
•How to listen?
•What is the focus on the negotiation?
•How should negotiators approach negotiations?
•What is tactical empathy?
•What are some negotiation tactics to get to understand the counterpart? 
•How to calm the emotions of the counterpart?
•How is fairness used?
•What happens to those who have a reputation for always getting a lot from counterparts?
•What does it mean to be nice?
•What do deadlines do to negotiations?
•How can numbers be used influence negotiations? 

Book Details
Publisher:         Harper Business [HarperCollinsPublishers]
Edition ISBN:  9780062407818
Pages to read:   206
Publication:     2016
1st Edition:      2016
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5


Friday, July 1, 2022

Review of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

This review was written by Eugene Kernes 

Book can be found in:
Genre = Novel
Book Club Event = Book List (08/13/2022)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Some Type of Romance, 2) To Cooperate Or To Defect?
Watch Short Review

Excerpts

“But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did.  It seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren’t.  He Knew that they weren’t” – Ayn Rand, Part 1: Chapter 1: The Theme, Page 22


“”Nobody expected Colorado to become an industrial state.  How can we have any security or plan anything if everything changes all the time?”” – Ayn Rand, Part 1: Chapter 1: The Theme, Page 24


“”Speaking of progressive policies, Orren,” said Taggart, “you might ask yourself whether at a time of transportation shortages, when so many railroads are going bankrupt and large areas are left without rail service, whether it is in the public interest to tolerate wasteful duplication of services and the destructive, dog-eat-dog competition of newcomers in territories where established companies have historical priority.”” – Ayn Rand, Part 1: Chapter 3: The Top and The Bottom, Page 66


Review
Overview:
There are many strikes of labor.  This is a story about the strike of the mind.  When those with a mind are persecuted and blamed for all problems while still forced to be productive, they have a few options.  They can continue letting their brain to be looted, or can stop thinking, or leave to use their skills elsewhere.  Some cannot help but work harder, even as the outcomes of that effort is looted.  Others cease to think for themselves, and start to just take orders, and then blame the decision makers for the problems caused.  But over time, many of the decision makers vanish.  It is as if a mysterious destroyer keeps taking away those with the ability to think.  Leaving only those who loot, and do not take responsibility.  

Although the looters want to keep looting other, they hate being looted.  They do not perceive themselves as looters, for all their actions are claimed and justified as being for the higher good.  Taking the moral high ground and gaining the support of the public, which the public suffer the consequences of the looting.  With social support, they keep looting which enriches themselves.  But what happens when there is no one left to loot?  No one left to think or produce?  Whom are they to blame?  Within the story, such questions that have uncertain answers are themselves answered with the question: Who is John Galt?

There is a lot of economics and philosophy weaved within this book.  The narrative is more background for the economics.  Seeing the impact of policies.  The impact of competition has consequences for those unwilling to compete.  For some, rather than compete, they write laws to remove the better competitors.  Claiming that it is for competition, and what is best for society.  With the irony of creating a monopoly that destroys the services the public needed. 

There are many characters in this book, some of which appear to act inconsistently.  But those contradictions only appear like contradictions, as the reader is asked to check the premises in making those character judgments.  

Caveats?
The book is polarizing.  Although many of the consequences of public policy in this book have historic precedents, they are exaggerated for effect.  But they also hint at the authors views on public policy.  The protagonists are major industrialists who are persecuted for their greed, but do not seem to be willing to engage politics.  With the implication that it is their greed that causes them to be productive.  There are fallacies within the economics presented.    

The world in this book has different cultural values, which the protagonists seem not to understand.  It seems that the protagonists have not been engaging with the culture for that long.  They seek to understand that culture, and when that understanding comes, they gain power. 

To embed the philosophy, there are very long speeches that people make, within the conversations.  These long speeches are more essays on particular topics, and reduce the flow of the narrative.  The long speeches seem to ask a lot of the listeners, and the reader, but have more succinct meanings.


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 some limitations of the book?
•Who is John Galt?
•What does Dagny Taggart do? 
•Why does Dagny build the John Galt line?  How was the name chosen? 
•hat did Rearden invent?  What social consequences are there for Rearden’s invention?
•Why did Rearden voluntarily give up the patent on the invention? 
•What is the impact of social policies?
•How to responds to competition?
•Who are the looters?  How do they loot others?
•Why do the looters need the victims consent? 
•What happened to the persecuted producers and thinkers?  Those with brains?
•Whose interest should take priority? 
•What did Francisco d’Anconia do?  Why did Francisco do what Francisco do? 
•What does Ragnar Dannekj√∂d do?  Why does Ragnar do that? 
•Why does James Taggart marry Cherryl Brooks?  What does Cherryl think of James?
•How to determine need and ability?  What does it mean to pay based on need, and punish based on ability? 
•What is the aristocracy of pull?
•What is the purpose of money?
•Why were so many laws created? 
•What is Project X?

Book Details
Publisher:         Signet [Penguin Group]
Edition ISBN:  9780452286368
Pages to read:   1291
Publication:     2004
1st Edition:      1957
Format:            eBook

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    5
Content          5
Overall           5