Book Bits: 12 March 2022

Work Pray Code: When Work Becomes Religion in Silicon Valley
Carolyn Chen
Q&A with author via Publishers Weekly
Q: What do you mean when you say work is replacing religion in America?
A: The last 40-50 years have shown a decline in American religious participation and affiliation, and an increase in the number of hours that high-skilled professionals are devoting to work. Fifty years ago, white-collar professionals were looking to fulfill their needs for identity, belonging, meaning, and purpose through organizations outside the workplace, such as their churches, temples, synagogues, or neighborhood associations. These days, work consumes so much of their lives, it’s in work that they find their identity, their belonging, their source of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose in life.

Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race to Make the Impossible Possible
Dr. Albert Bourla
Profile of author via CBS News
At the New York labs of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, chairman and CEO Dr. Albert Bourla showed correspondent Alina Cho where scientists are working on the next generation of COVID vaccines, testing vaccinated and unvaccinated cell samples against new variants. These are the same labs where they helped pioneer the original vaccine.
Think back to two years ago, as COVID-19 spread across the world, when the normal timeline for the development of a vaccine was eight to ten years. “You went to your team and you said, ‘Get one in eight months,'” said Cho. “Did you honestly believe you could get it done?”
“I felt that we don’t have option to fail,” Bourla replied.

The Mystic Hand: How Central Banks Shaped the 21st Century Global Economy
Johan Van Overtveldt
Summary via publisher Agate Publishing
While the financial crisis required central bankers to act in decisive ways, it can no longer be denied that the consequences of these expansive monetary policies have become major issues. Central bank policies of the last decade and a half have resulted in a relentless build-up of leverage and debt; led to speculative bubbles in different kinds of markets; undermined the willingness of political authorities to put their fiscal houses in order; stimulated a “zombification” of the economy and the growth of shadow banking activities; and contributed to growing inequality around the world. Central bankers are at a crucial turning point for the future of their profession, and even more for the future of our economy. New lessons have to be learnt. Our future depends on these being the right lessons.

The New Normal in IT: How the Global Pandemic Changed Information Technology Forever
Gregory S. Smith
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Learn how IT leaders are adapting to the new reality of life during and after COVID-19
COVID-19 has caused fundamental shifts in attitudes around remote and office work. And in The New Normal in IT: How the Global Pandemic Changed Information Technology Forever, internationally renowned IT executive Gregory S. Smith explains how and why companies today are shedding corporate office locations and reducing office footprints. You’ll learn about how companies realized the value of information technology and a distributed workforce and what that means for IT professionals going forward.

George Soros: A Life In Full
Peter L. W. Osnos
Review via Inside Philanthropy
The cover of a new book about George Soros includes a long list of descriptors: “survivor, billionaire, speculator, philanthropist, political activist, nemesis of the far right, global citizen.” In essays by eight authors, experts and colleagues, “George Soros: A Life in Full” attempts to shed light on all the many facets of the billionaire philanthropist’s extraordinary life.
The biography, edited by journalist and publisher Peter L.W. Osnos and published by Harvard Business Review Press, includes vivid descriptions of Soros’ family and his early years in Nazi-occupied Hungary, written by author and Polish emigre Eva Hoffman. Sebastian Mallaby, a journalist and senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, provides an examination of the hedge fund manager’s financial wizardry. China expert and author Orville Schell reflects not only on Soros’ forays into that country, but on his larger role as a public citizen.

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