Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bryan Caplan on Amy Chua on Markets & Democracy: Not Always a Great Couple?

Very nerdy.

Caplan provides a brief description of Chua's World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. Chua argues that while ethnic minorities often are economic leaders in a society, and are thereby subject to resentment, they benefit most from market reforms.However, because of resentment, they suffer when majority voters promote punitive policies toward them. Caplan challenges her assumptions. However, either way, its a brief reminder that markets and democracy isn't all sweetness and light when it roles in. Think of the North African nations: whither will they go? (I don't know if they have much in the way of ethnic minorities, however.) Thought-provoking.

Joshua Foer on Memory

Rating: Moderately nerdy (although Iowa Guru would consider it really nerdy).

Joshua Foer published the above cited article in the NYT Magazine that heralds the publication of this book Moonwalking with Einstein, which is set to come out in a couple of days. The topic of memory and mnemonic devices has fascinated me for decades. From Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas's book to the work of Francis Yates (The Art of Memory), this intrigues me. As I sit here, I have a pretty good memory of what I've read and learned. I can recall narratives and facts for work pretty well, at least when a case is active. As for history, I think that I have a pretty good memory. Why so? I think that I like to make sense of things. One of my earliest memories (and I kid you not about this), when we lived on Pioneer Avenue (i.e., before 3rd grade), I wanted to know who came first, the Kaiser or Hitler? (Maybe this really is very nerdy.) Anyway, I think that I really have a sense of narrative as a explanatory and mnemonic device. Well, anyway, learning to memorize more has some interest, and, as I'm sure Foer discusses in his book (as well as the article, which seems a lead in for the book), it is a fascinating tale of its own. Thus, my interest. On the other hand, Iowa Guru can testify to very many instances of very bad memory!

If you want to get a further sense of Foer's project and book, Amazon has both a interview and a brief video interview. I'm looking forward to the book.