Sunday, January 25, 2009

What I've been reading

Here's what's on the nightstand:

- The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrich von Hayek. The well known book, we're doing this in our reading group here and this is actually my first read. We're only the introduction and three chapters in, but thus far, I was a bit taken aback by the warning of heading down the same (economic freedom) path as Germany and Russia...yet he calls for certain government interventions that support competition. Odd. Emily replied a little while back about the aims of RtoS, and I'm hoping the discussion goes towards the political and economic freedom realm.

- The Origins of Virtue, by Matt Ridley. I'm almost done with this one; it was recommended to me by an undergraduate here at WVU. Surprising to me that the Folk Theorem was never mentioned by name throughout, though that's basically what's described. It's a view of biology and anthropology through economics glasses; we're nice to people when (strict self-interested economics says) we shouldn't be because we're hard-wired to be nice, since that wins out in the cooperative long run. I found the biology examples most interesting, vampire bats, sticklebacks and the like. Recommended.

- The Baseball Economist, by J.C. Bradbury. The title on the cover says "The next step in the Bill James Revolution"; James' writing always hit me a little bit better than this did. (Part of that could be because even though James is a stat-hound, he's a deceptively good writer.) I enjoyed the attempts to isolate and rank baseball eras and the effectiveness of Leo Mazzone; less so the big market vs. small market teams and evolution of baseball talent (as separate from the ranking of eras). The steriods chapter seems out of place. It's baseball and economics, so I'm going to like it, but maybe also expect too much at the same time?

I just cracked Baseball and Philosophy, so not too much to say about that yet. I've decided as a New Year's resolution that I need to read decidedly more. I also like baseball, so I'm going to read more about that as it pertains to other areas. (Thus the previous two books.) The White Man's Burden just came in the mail; that should be a quick read and (hopefully) chock full of the same types of examples that made The Elusive Quest for Growth so great to cite. I'm curious to see how his take on development has evolved between the two. The Theory of Moral Sentiments just came as well; it was mentioned in the Origins of Virtue at a number of points and I've never taken a gander at that either. A little while back, Tom and Dana let me borrow Slash; I should get into that as well.


unsilentmajority said...

Interesting choices

Tonto Kowalski said...

I recommend you read Moneyball by Billy Beane.