Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I've Been Reading

- Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. An enjoyable read and an interesting perspective on players within financial markets. I think he's a bit strong in his assertions but, for example, the general point of noise vs. market signal is a salient one. I also like the line (paraphrasing) that small wealth is a function of skill but large wealth is a function of luck. The Black Swan is the subsequent read; has anyone read both? Is the second a significant departure from the first or more of the same?

- Honeybee Democracy by Thomas D. Seeley. It's a bit heavy on the specifics of all experiments-- not that the information is without merit, but the marginal value to a biologist is far grater than to me. Nonetheless, the general idea of how bees make group decisions is an interesting one. I'm on the fence as to whether bees are actually practicing democracy-- to me, a realization of the larger framework of "we need to make a decision and voting is how we're going to do it" is necessary to realize a functioning democracy. Maybe it's a semantic issue between democracy and a democratic process...I could be convinced either way.

- Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. This has been on the to-read list for a few years now, I finally just got it on the Kindle and now I'm looking forward to getting through it. I didn't realize Hamilton was so prolific as a writer-- a complete set of his writings assembled a little while back by a group at Columbia (I believe) came to 32 volumes.

- Moby Dick. Somehow missed this throughout my education; I am likely missing the larger picture issues that make this a classic but it's a surprisingly enjoyable read.

- The Lodger Shakespeare by Charles Nicholl. Not sure how far I'll go with this, but I read the first few chapters and have a feeling that I've secured all likely surplus. In short: We know Shakespeare's stories but have little glimpse of his voice outside of his works. This is the story of a court case in which Shakespeare provided recorded testimony-- thus, the only believed instance of Shakespeare speaking in real life.

- How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll by Elijah Wald. Just started this as well; every time I read music history I realize how much of the world of music I'm completely and utterly ignorant. Nonetheless, it may provide quality fodder to support my assertion that the Beatles are the most overrated rock band in history.


Will Luther said...

I maintain that Aerosmith is the most overrated rock band history.

Matt E. Ryan said...

I'd pay good money to see Aerosmith if the setlist would be nothing but Pump and before-- more still if the show were nothing but pre-1980 songs. (Though Night in the Ruts [1979] could easily be omitted.)