Keynes vs. Hayek: Book Review Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics eBook: Wapshott, Nicholas: Kindle Store by  Nicholas Wapshott I liked this book on two of the most influential economists of the Twentieth Century. Wapshott is an engaging writer who can combine personal portraits with clear explanations of the underlying issues. Keynes was likely the most influential economist of the Century, and his intellectual brilliance intimidated even mega-minds like Bertrand Russell and Wittgenstein. He was at the negotiations over the end of the First World War and correctly predicted that its disastrous provisions would lead to another War in his article  The Economic Consequences of Peace.  His role as a Cassandra was further c

Why Did the Mongols So Easily Conquer Russia?

 I have been reading Peter Turchin's War and Peace and War.  He open's with a look at how the Mongols easily swept through Russia and how Muscovy completely turned the table three centuries later.  One reason his analysis caught my eye is because it resonated with a favorite theme of mine: what is wrong with Libertarianism.  Thirteenth Century Russia was fragmented into tiny principalities and city states.  Even though they knew that cooperation was their best chance against the invasion, they were unable to unite.  Why?  The destruction of the Volga Bulgars in 1236 made it abundantly clear that the Mongols planned a systematic conquest; however, the Russians did not unite. Paradoxically, every principality, when taken individually, behaved in a completely rational manner. Each prince waited for others to unite and defeat the Mongols. Because each prince controlled only a small army, his contribution was not crucial to the common success. His potential costs, on the other hand,

UEFA 2020 - Why Soccer Sucks

 Time for one of my occasional notes on how to reform football, so traditionalists please retire to your fainting couches.  Italy vs. Spain.  Two excellent teams battle for two hours and then the winner is decided by flipping a blankety-blank coin. OK, a virtual coin.   The problem is that there are far too few decent scoring opportunities.  Defensive technique is just too good.  Which reminds me: the penalty shot is an ugly wart on the game.  Most fouls in the penalty error aren't called because the penalty shot is ridiculously disproportionate.  1) For a start, eliminate the penalty shot and replace it with a free kick from a penalty loop about 30 meters from the goal.  Call penalty area fouls aggressively - no tackling or shirt tugging allowed. 2) (This one due to Pele).  Replace throw-ins with kick-ins or punt-ins.  Possibly limit these to the back two thirds of the field (see below). 3) Divide the pitch into equal thirds, with the offside rule only applying in the final third.


 I've developed an enthusiasm for OUP's Very Short Introduction series and accumulated a dozen or so of them, mostly on economics and science.  Also a few from Princeton UP's science essentials series. They are great if you want about 200 pages on Marine Biology or Malthus , written by an expert professional. Anyway, my current attention has focused on economics, starting with Keynes .  Keynes is probably the dominating figure of Twentieth Century economics, a man of such intimidating intellect that even Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein were abashed. Bertrand Russell has written that ‘Keynes’s intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool.’  Skidelsky, Robert. Keynes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 4). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition.  The fight over his legacy continues 75 years after his death.  The decade

Recent Books 6-19: Mini-Reviews

  The Stand by Stephen King – This bloated monstrosity (1348 pg) starts as a disturbingly contemporary post-apocalyptic novel.  A deadly virus escapes from a lab and kills almost everybody. The few survivors start finding each other, but since this is a Stephen King novel, a bunch of Satanic hocus-pocus quickly becomes the focus.  Aside from the fact that this novel is about 1148 pages too long, it is otherwise forgettable.  Even the devilish villain is pretty boring. The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman – Another good Navaho country mystery by Tony Hillerman.   An historic Navajo rug thought destroyed in a fire shows up in an architecture magazine and retired lawman turned detective turns up dead.   Retired Navajo Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn gets in involve.   Lots of nice scenes from Navaho country. Leaphorn and Jim Chee. The Sun: A Very Short Introduction – Another book in the very short introductions series.   All about the Sun in 184 pages.   I read this for background on severa

Book Review: Premonition: A Pandemic Story, by Michael Lewis

  This was a hard book for me to read, since so much of it is the story of government incompetence and the cowardice of our leaders, and the vast death and suffering those character flaws produced, but it is full of lessons for the future. Michael Lewis is famous for his ability to put human faces on big stories and construct   coherent narratives.   Premonition tells the story of the efforts of a handful of visionary doctors and scientists to prepare for and cope with the great Pandemic of 2020-… The first important politician to appreciate the threat was George W. Bush, maybe the last person I would have suspected.   Bush had read John Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History during his summer vacation in 2005 and came back to the White House to ask Congress for money and created an office in the White House Staff.   Some of those recruited would play key roles in the rest of the book. What happened when the Obama team took over exposed one of g

Origin of Covid: The Lab Leak Theory

  The Lab Leak Theory On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China” … Katherine Eban, writing in Vanity Fair , assembles a persuasive case that the notion that covid-19 originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology should be taken very seriously.   One reason that it hasn’t been was that statement in The Lancet .   A second reason was the fact that the Lab origin theory was being promoted mostly by right-wing allies of Donald Trump.   Eban notes: Thanks to their unprecedented track record of mendacity and race-baiting, Trump and his allies had less than zero credibility. And the practice of funding risky research via cutouts like EcoHealth Alliance