Book Bits: 19 June 2021

Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else
Jordan Ellenberg
Essay by author via The Atlantic
The fact is, binary classifications such as “safe” and “not safe” mostly don’t exist in real life, and those who seek them may well be led astray. No government agency or Anthony Fauci lieutenant ever said you can’t catch the coronavirus from six feet and one inch away—six feet was always an arbitrary “good enough” standard established so that the grocery stores knew how far apart to put the shoe stickers on the floor. But many people nonetheless experienced the recommendation as a sharp-edged boundary: danger within the six-foot circle, safety outside. This kind of all-or-nothing thinking reached its absurd climax in high schools in Billings, Montana, last October. Responding to guidance that coronavirus transmission was a danger when students spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of one another, the schools introduced a new mitigation strategy: Everybody changes desks every 14 minutes.

The Poor and the Plutocrats: From the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich
Francis Teal
Summary via publisher (Oxford U. Press)
A decisive examination of inequality and its relationship to poverty and wealth, The Poor and the Plutocrats explores how we live in a world of very many poor people and a very few extremely rich ones – the poor and the plutocrats of the title. Globally the last twenty years have seen declines in inequality between countries and the fastest fall in the numbers of absolutely poor in history – those living on less than the World Bank extreme poverty line of US$1.90 per day. In parallel, inequality within some countries has increased markedly, particularly in the US and the UK.

Raising Keynes: A Twenty-First-Century General Theory
Stephen Marglin
Summary via publisher (Harvard U. Press)
John Maynard Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was the most influential economic idea of the twentieth century. But, argues Stephen Marglin, its radical implications were obscured by Keynes’s lack of the mathematical tools necessary to argue convincingly that the problem was the market itself, as distinct from myriad sources of friction around its margins. Marglin fills in the theoretical gaps, revealing the deeper meaning of the General Theory. Drawing on eight decades of discussion and debate since the General Theory was published, as well as on his own research, Marglin substantiates Keynes’s intuition that there is no mechanism within a capitalist economy that ensures full employment. Even if deregulating the economy could make it more like the textbook ideal of perfect competition, this would not address the problem that Keynes identified: the potential inadequacy of aggregate demand.

Wish I Knew That Sooner: Strategies To Avoid Financial Regret
Sten Morgan
Summary via Amazon
If you have ever learned a financial lesson the hard way, you’ve probably said, “I wish I knew that sooner.” Everyone, from small business owners to millionaires and even billionaires, has had the same regrets at one time or another. Now they―and you―have somewhere to turn for no-nonsense, bottom-line financial guidance. In his groundbreaking book, financial expert Sten Morgan will give you the same advice he shares with his clients―advice most “experts” will not. Sten isn’t going to tell you to wait thirty years to achieve financial success; he didn’t. He’s not going to make you feel guilty about buying a latte, and he’ll point out times when spending money on yourself is a good idea.

Unpack Your Financial Baggage: How to Battle the Misconceptions of Retirement Planning
Lou Melone
Press release for book via
Inflation, the pandemic, and the current economy have many people wondering how and if they will be able to retire. The first step to retirement planning is to begin to unpack financial baggage. Financial baggage comes in many forms and influences which are explained by author Lou Melone, CFP®. Lou’s Anatomy of Investor Returns Theory, the basics of financial planning, and an explanation as to why money is not defined as units of currency but by purchasing power are among reasons that readers will learn as to why they need to unpack their financial baggage.

Numb: How the Information Age Dulls Our Senses and How We Can Get them Back
Charles R. Chaffin
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In Numb, distinguished author Dr. Charles R. Chaffin delivers a fun and evidence-based exploration of how you can devote more attention on what you believe is important while ignoring the distractions that increasingly permeate your life. Using research from cognitive, education, positive, and clinical psychology, the book identifies the sources of noise and distraction in this information age and how we can manage it in all aspects of our lives.

Please note that the links to books above are affiliate links with and James Picerno (a.k.a. The Capital Spectator) earns money if you buy one of the titles listed. Also note that you will not pay extra for a book even though it generates revenue for The Capital Spectator. By purchasing books through this site, you provide support for The Capital Spectator’s free content. Thank you!