Book Bits: 2 December 2023

Outsmart the Money Magicians: Maximize Your Net Worth by Seeing Through the Most Powerful Illusions Performed by Wall Street and the IRS
Christopher R. Manske
Summary via publisher (McGraw Hill)
A Wall Street insider draws back the curtain on how financial firms take advantage of individual investors—and delivers the information and insights you need to turn the tables. Nationwide brokerage firms have perfected the secrets for how to legally fool the rest of us into giving them our hard-earned money. Written by a renowned leader and financial reform advocate who has seen every trick in the book firsthand, Outsmart the Money Magicians reveals how biased the financial system often is, and helps you see through the illusions, understand exactly what is happening with your money, and make investing and tax decisions accordingly.

The Gilded Cage: Technology, Development, and State Capitalism in China
Ya-Wen Lei
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
Since the mid-2000s, the Chinese state has increasingly shifted away from labor-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing to a process of socioeconomic development centered on science and technology. Ya-Wen Lei traces the contours of this techno-developmental regime and its resulting form of techno-state capitalism, telling the stories of those whose lives have been transformed—for better and worse—by China’s rapid rise to economic and technological dominance. Drawing on groundbreaking fieldwork and a wealth of in-depth interviews with managers, business owners, workers, software engineers, and local government officials, Lei describes the vastly unequal values assigned to economic sectors deemed “high-end” versus “low-end,” and the massive expansion of technical and legal instruments used to measure and control workers and capital.

Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World in a Big Way
Roma Agrawal
Review via Publishers Weekly
In this wide-ranging history, structural engineer Agrawal (Built) surveys how seven objects—the nail, wheel, spring, magnet, lens, string, and pump—transformed the world. Arguing that these “foundational innovations” prove “how engineering at its most fundamental is inextricably linked to your everyday life,” Agrawal discusses how the first bronze nails, dating to 3400 BCE Egypt, and their derivatives (rivets, screws, bolts) “enabled robust connections between different materials,” an innovation so fundamental it allowed for the construction of more complex buildings and boats and today makes possible such diverse gadgetry as satellites and watches.

Tech For Good: Imagine Solving the World’s Greatest Challenges
Marga Hoek
Q&A with author via Forbes
Q: What is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? And what are some of the big new technologies that belong here?
A: The Fourth Industrial Revolution, often abbreviated as 4IR or Industry 4.0, is a term used to describe the current era of rapid technological advancements that are reshaping the way we live, work, and interact with the world. It builds upon the previous industrial revolutions, which include the use of steam engines (1st), electricity and mass production (2nd), and the advent of computers and automation (3rd). The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines among the physical, digital, and biological worlds.

Human Capital: A History of Putting Refugees to Work
Laura Robson
Summary via publisher (Verso Books)
Historian Laura Robson unveils the dark heart of our purportedly humanitarian international regime. Tracing the century-long history of attempts to remake refugees into disposable migrant labor, Robson elucidates global humanitarianism’s deep-seated commitment to refugee exploitation and containment. Surveying more than a hundred years of policy across the globe, Robson captures the travails of Balkan refugees in the late Ottoman Empire, Roosevelt’s secret plans to use German Jewish refugees as laborers in Latin America, and contemporary European efforts to deploy Syrians as low-wage workers in remote regions of Jordan.

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