Reading Round the Web
If you’ve spent any time around here, and were prone to cataloging, you’d rightfully say this was a book blog. It’s true. My first love was books.
But I am not a complete Luddite. Like any other reader I spend a lot of time online.
So today I’m sharing some things I’ve read there recently. They’re mostly longer form. Old habits die hard and brevity isn’t always the best way for me to get my mind in gear. I hope you find something that grabs your interest.
The 9.9% is the New American Aristocracy
I’ve been fretting about growing inequality and elite (mis)behavior for a long time now. As a problem, the seeds were sown long before the Great Recession and it isn’t going to go away soon. Matthew Stewart, an analytical philosopher we’ve met before, has now turned to the subject with this article, which must be an extract of a forthcoming book. Though the argument is similar to Richard V. Reeves‘ it’s presented here in a far more compelling manner.
IBM pitched its Watson supercomputer as a revolution in cancer care. It’s nowhere close.
Casey Ross and Ike Swetlitz
A few years back I spent 15 months or so addressing what luckily turned out to be a minor medical issue. Along the way I was treated to a front-row seat at the numbers-driven, modern American medical machine. It wasn’t a pretty sight. If you worry about what happens when numbers on a page (or screen) become more important than the human beings in the room this article’s for you. It’s worth the time spent even if math and science intimidate you.
I’m eternally failing at reforming myself. Time and again I declare I’ll pay attention to how I stumble across things only to discover I haven’t. This essay by a scholar of early Confucian ethics introduced me to a concept that had escaped me but explains a lot–impostor syndrome. While I still don’t know how I discovered it, I heartily recommend Aeon as a place for dipping into any number of areas of inquiry. If this writer interests you, subscriber to her blog, which is worth paying attention to.
The Smug Style in American Liberalism
Often a day late, I try to avoid winding up a buck short. So even if this piece is now more than two years old I’m happy to have found it. I know, in the age of Trump many believe solidarity is the most important thing but I like to think most people want to vote for something. And for decades now the major party alternative to the GOP agenda has put me off. Rensin, here, offers a pretty brutal take that made a lot of sense to me.
The Slippery Math of Causation
At heart, I am a nerd. I know that these days people embrace the word geek and think the two terms are synonymous. But to me a geek bites the heads off chickens while a nerd does experiments. Case in point: I’m in the middle of a now year-old experiment designed to quantify just what degree of randomness Apple built into the smart list functionality of iTunes. All that said, if you similarly wonder about things few others do you may want to explore the math of causation. For me, it’s not just a personal obsession, it’s a professional necessity.
Back to the books. Happy reading.