Books and literature

I have been listening to an audiobook of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s: Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. It’s full of interesting concepts and engaging writing. In one passage, Taleb describes the anxiety of the investor who feels the need to constantly check on how well an investment […]

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The New York Times has published an exceptional long article by Scott Anderson about the history of the Middle East since 2003. It’s an ambitious text to have written, not a trivial task to read, and perhaps a suggestion that print journalism is enduring in its dedication to telling complicated stories, despite ongoing challenges to […]

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Since moving out of Massey College, the great majority of my books have been inside a heap of banker’s boxes, both cluttering my room and impeding access to them for PhD purposes. A few days ago, I finally received delivery of a custom bookcase from INOVA, designed to fill the largest available space in my […]

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So much confusion, so much paranoia, so many good intentions, so much hard work, technical genius, cynicism, manipulation, buckpassing, buckpocketing, argument, grandstanding, risk-taking, calculation, theorizing, goodwill and bad, rhetoric and hypocrisy, so much desperation, all point to something intractable behind the problem of how to deploy sufficient and appropriate nuclear arms to protect one’s nation […]

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The main storytelling device in William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral is after-the-fact exposition (ATFE), which gives it the feeling of a mystery more than conventional science fiction. Rather than tell you in advance how a world or a technology works, Gibson shows you the results without context and provides the explanation later. This does well […]

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In the Massey College room where I lived for three years (V:4, best room in the college), there was a sumptuous abundance of shelf space: two shelves extending the entire long axis of the room (probably 20′ of shelving each), plus this shelving unit between the office and bedroom areas. Now, my generally excellent new […]

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Occupy Wall Street comprised the people who responded to the call. Ultimately, however, uncritical openness was Occupy’s downfall: the general assemblies were paralyzed by the inability to distinguish between true and false. Participants who had been with Occupy for a day were given a say equal to that of committed activists who had founded the […]

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I have written before about banned books. In this video, a contemporary author discusses the experience of having his novel banned for containing apparently mature content: His closer — about deferring to librarians to make such judgments – differs from the more common narrative that rejects such curation entirely.

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Donald McLachlan, a journalist who served under Godfrey [head of British naval intelligence] at the Admiralty, afterwards argued that all wartime intelligence departments should be run by civilians in uniform, because they are unburdened by the lifetime prejudices of career soldiers, sailors and airmen: ‘It is the lawyer, the scholar, the traveller, the banker, even […]

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I left the Corps because I had become a reluctant warrior. Many Marines reminded me of gladiators. They had that mysterious quality that allows some men to strap on greaves and a breastplate and wade into the gore. I respected, admired, and emulated them, but I could never be like them. I could kill when […]

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