Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation books 

I settled on:

  • Keith Devlin's The Language of Mathematics
  • Philip Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
  • Kazik: Memoirs of a Warsaw Ghetto Fighter

    The first two started interesting conversations at the in-law's reunion. So did the psych journal I brought, the latest Psychology, Public Policy, and Law with its study of mock jurors and the power of DNA evidence (to my horror, most subjects seemed to think blood type was the same as DNA, and if a suspect's blood type matched that found at the scene, it was as damning as matching DNA. American science illiteracy seems to be as high as math illiteracy). Those two books turned out to be much discussed, and I was very pleased.

    I always learn things at the farm. One uncle and I discussed how the taxation results in money "lost" from the market - money that doesn't go to government, supplier, or purchaser, but somehow bleeds off the system (not even taking into account fraud or the money/effort needed to collect taxes). He got a bit turned around, and my old minor in Econ finally came in handy in drawing accurate supply and demand curves. I'm so cool.

    I had too much time in the airport coming home. I know that because I doubled the books I was carrying. I got a book on traffic (recommended by both Wired abd The Week, so give it time - it will be a NYT bestseller, and for once I'll be leading the trend), David Bellavia's House to House, a few Harvard Business Review books, and a long list of books to get elsewhere so I didn't have to carry them on the airplane.

    I also bought a diet Coke. I like being in the US. It's a diet Coke here, not a Coke Light, as in Canada or the African countries I've been to. Yes, these little things are important.

    Today I've set aside time to read a bit from the books I bought as souvinirs in Botswana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Happiness.

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