What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
OpenRoad
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:09 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby OpenRoad » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:13 pm

Almost finished with The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker. Very enjoyable read. Just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Enjoyed it immensely.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:29 pm

I am a few pages into Jeremy Rifkin's The Zero Marginal Cost Society, and I already foresee that it will have a profound effect on my outlook, including the investing outlook. Rifkin's main thesis, at least so far, is that in a market-exchange economy, profit is made at the margin, and as margins rapidly shrink, so do potential profits. The early victims are entertainment, publishing and education, but there will be others.

Rifkin cites a paper The "New Economy": Background, Historical Perspective, Questions, and Speculation by J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summer, delivered at Economic Policy for the Information Economy, a symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, August 30 - September 1, 2001, including: "the most basic condition for economic efficiency: that price equal marginal cost. However, forcing prices to be equal to marginal cost cannot be sustained because the fixed set-up costs are not covered."

Now, 13 years after DeLong and Summer's paper, $0 marginal cost became a reality, as anyone who has taken a MOOC course, read a free book online, or received free news without subscribing to a newspaper would attest. With marginal prices dropping, what does it mean for the corporate profits?

We have numerous threads about safe withdrawal rates that assume a certain level of the market performance based on its history for the past 100 years. Wise posters keep reminding us that the past returns are not an indication of the future, and while we all rationally agree with this, we still irrationally latch onto the past trends. This book provides a convincing scenario of how the future performance can be radically different from the past.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:10 am

VictoriaF wrote: With marginal prices dropping, what does it mean for the corporate profits?


Victoria


I'm not too concerned about corporate profits, Victoria.
Content providers such as Amazon, Google, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc are hardly hurting.
My concern is, rather, the economic sustainability of the artist, and by extrapolation, of art itself.
If you know any musicians who are not lip-synching to audiences of thousands paying hundreds of dollars per ticket, or first-time authors trying to publish, you know what I am talking about.

Check this out: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2 ... rn-online/

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3177
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ged » Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:35 pm

Some industries are countering this trend through regulatory capture or oligopoly formation. A classic example is the airlines who went from a very profitable regulated environment to a dog-eat-dog marginal cost environment and capital destruction and back to the current oligopoly where they are profitable again.

Methinks this is cyclical across industry. Maybe oil is an example of an industry going into a marginal cost environment. Retail another. Entertainment I'm not so sure; new oligopolies like Netflix and Comcast may be replacing the old ones. Not to mention some of them are trying for regulatory capture.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:17 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: With marginal prices dropping, what does it mean for the corporate profits?


Victoria


I'm not too concerned about corporate profits, Victoria.
Content providers such as Amazon, Google, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc are hardly hurting.
My concern is, rather, the economic sustainability of the artist, and by extrapolation, of art itself.
If you know any musicians who are not lip-synching to audiences of thousands paying hundreds of dollars per ticket, or first-time authors trying to publish, you know what I am talking about.

Check this out: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2 ... rn-online/


I think, protagonist, that both factors are important--in different ways.

Individual content providers are already suffering. You are familiar with, and your link illustrates, the difficulty of making money in music. Likewise, journalists are being displaced by concentrated news sources, and writers struggle (and fail) to get published. With MOOC gaining momentum, teachers and professors are becoming insecure about their jobs. These and other culturally significant areas are experiencing enormous stress, and when they don't provide living wages the talent is forced to go elsewhere.

The second factor, more relevant to the Forum, is:
- How are these macro changes going to affect the growth of the markets?
- Should we still expect the same growth rates if the profit margins are, in fact, rapidly shrinking?

You have pointed out on many occasions that we should not expect the future market performance to resemble the past; that we do not have enough data points, and whatever data points we have are not representative of the future ones. I think this trend towards "the zero marginal cost society" indicates how the future markets and investments may evolve.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:17 pm

Ged wrote:Some industries are countering this trend through regulatory capture or oligopoly formation. A classic example is the airlines who went from a very profitable regulated environment to a dog-eat-dog marginal cost environment and capital destruction and back to the current oligopoly where they are profitable again.

Methinks this is cyclical across industry. Maybe oil is an example of an industry going into a marginal cost environment. Retail another. Entertainment I'm not so sure; new oligopolies like Netflix and Comcast may be replacing the old ones. Not to mention some of them are trying for regulatory capture.


Rifkin recognizes that established companies tend to become monopolies and oligopolies to defend their profits. But he claims that eventually this defense is broken by the pressure from potential competitors. When the competitors succeed the change is fast and ruthless.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 33419
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby nisiprius » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:18 pm

Espresso Tales, by Alexander McCall Smith, second in the "44 Scotland Street" series and loving it. I think I like these better than the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series.

I can't quite tell if he gives Setswana verbal mannerism to Scottish speakers or vice versa, but some of them are in evidence here, as when a character makes some dubious assertion and then says "That is well-known."

At any rate, I spend too much time on Bogleheads, so I decided to disengage by reading another chapter, and what did I come to but this:
In 'Espresso Tales,' Alexander McCall Smith wrote:I always recommend [Robert Burns' To A Mouse to parents who want their children to learn to love poetry. Start with that and then move on to Tam O'Shanter when the child is slightly older and will not get too nervous over all those references to bogles and the like.
You can find Tam o' Shanter here, and the relevant extract is:
Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire;
Despisin' wind and rain and fire.
Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet;
Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots sonnet;
Whiles glowring round wi' prudent cares,
Lest bogles catch him unawares:
Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,
Whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
seeshells
Posts: 179
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 12:43 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby seeshells » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:59 pm

5th Edition, Multinational Finance: Evaluating Opportunities, Costs, and Risks of Operation. By Kirt Butler.

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:02 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: With marginal prices dropping, what does it mean for the corporate profits?


Victoria


I'm not too concerned about corporate profits, Victoria.
Content providers such as Amazon, Google, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc are hardly hurting.
My concern is, rather, the economic sustainability of the artist, and by extrapolation, of art itself.
If you know any musicians who are not lip-synching to audiences of thousands paying hundreds of dollars per ticket, or first-time authors trying to publish, you know what I am talking about.

Check this out: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2 ... rn-online/


I think, protagonist, that both factors are important--in different ways.

Individual content providers are already suffering. You are familiar with, and your link illustrates, the difficulty of making money in music. Likewise, journalists are being displaced by concentrated news sources, and writers struggle (and fail) to get published. With MOOC gaining momentum, teachers and professors are becoming insecure about their jobs. These and other culturally significant areas are experiencing enormous stress, and when they don't provide living wages the talent is forced to go elsewhere.

The second factor, more relevant to the Forum, is:
- How are these macro changes going to affect the growth of the markets?
- Should we still expect the same growth rates if the profit margins are, in fact, rapidly shrinking?

You have pointed out on many occasions that we should not expect the future market performance to resemble the past; that we do not have enough data points, and whatever data points we have are not representative of the future ones. I think this trend towards "the zero marginal cost society" indicates how the future markets and investments may evolve.

Victoria


Are profit margins truly shrinking, or are they merely concentrating in fewer hands? In the arts, as well as the corporations that profit from them, I see the current trend in similar terms as the overall trend in America as exemplified by increasing Gini coefficient.... there will increasingly be the "haves" (the huge manufactured pop icons and the gargantuan retailers of their products) and the "have-nots" (the starving artists), with erosion of anything in between. This trend is already evident, no?

I find this sad, since the internet held out so much hope as the "great equalizer" . In some instances it does succeed- the lone voice genius who can publish for free and gets discovered. But in the greater scheme, it seems to be increasing, not narrowing, the gap.

(I'm referring to the arts here, because you referenced books and journalism, and music, cinema has followed a similar path....I think it is an area where this is perhaps most transparent. As for online education (which you also referenced), I think it is in a more embryonic stage, principally because educating oneself online for free or for pennies is not yet the marketable ticket that a $250K ivy league degree is. But someday perhaps it will be.)

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:53 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: With marginal prices dropping, what does it mean for the corporate profits?


Victoria


I'm not too concerned about corporate profits, Victoria.
Content providers such as Amazon, Google, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc are hardly hurting.
My concern is, rather, the economic sustainability of the artist, and by extrapolation, of art itself.
If you know any musicians who are not lip-synching to audiences of thousands paying hundreds of dollars per ticket, or first-time authors trying to publish, you know what I am talking about.

Check this out: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/2 ... rn-online/


I think, protagonist, that both factors are important--in different ways.

Individual content providers are already suffering. You are familiar with, and your link illustrates, the difficulty of making money in music. Likewise, journalists are being displaced by concentrated news sources, and writers struggle (and fail) to get published. With MOOC gaining momentum, teachers and professors are becoming insecure about their jobs. These and other culturally significant areas are experiencing enormous stress, and when they don't provide living wages the talent is forced to go elsewhere.

The second factor, more relevant to the Forum, is:
- How are these macro changes going to affect the growth of the markets?
- Should we still expect the same growth rates if the profit margins are, in fact, rapidly shrinking?

You have pointed out on many occasions that we should not expect the future market performance to resemble the past; that we do not have enough data points, and whatever data points we have are not representative of the future ones. I think this trend towards "the zero marginal cost society" indicates how the future markets and investments may evolve.

Victoria


Are profit margins truly shrinking, or are they merely concentrating in fewer hands? In the arts, as well as the corporations that profit from them, I see the current trend in similar terms as the overall trend in America as exemplified by increasing Gini coefficient.... there will increasingly be the "haves" (the huge manufactured pop icons and the gargantuan retailers of their products) and the "have-nots" (the starving artists), with erosion of anything in between. This trend is already evident, no?

I find this sad, since the internet held out so much hope as the "great equalizer" . In some instances it does succeed- the lone voice genius who can publish for free and gets discovered. But in the greater scheme, it seems to be increasing, not narrowing, the gap.

(I'm referring to the arts here, because you referenced books and journalism, and music, cinema has followed a similar path....I think it is an area where this is perhaps most transparent. As for online education (which you also referenced), I think it is in a more embryonic stage, principally because educating oneself online for free or for pennies is not yet the marketable ticket that a $250K ivy league degree is. But someday perhaps it will be.)


From what I am reading, certain markets (publishing, music) are shrinking. Even if the winner-takes-all effect (Gini coefficient) is increasing, the total profit is declining. Not all sectors are trending towards zero margin, but there are many surprising ones.

The modern communications have enabled people to share transportation using services such as Zipcar, Uber and Capital BikeShare. People share lodging by using AirBnB and Couchsurfing. Expensive cellular plan commitments are being replaced with MVNOs. People buy and sell goods on eBay and Craigslist. Watching sports on a modern TV is successfully competing with going to a ballpark.

People are buying 3D printers and sharing their designs. Robots are taking on some human chores at a fraction of the cost. People share culinary, medical, and legal information cutting out professionals. The Bogleheads are reducing the profit margins of financial planners.

And so the Internet does provide equalizing functions, at an accelerated rate. The more people communicate over social networks, the faster the information spreads.

Self-education and formal education are blending. Some schools are starting to recognize MOOC certificates, which Corsera now offers for $45 per course. While an Ivy League degree is still a valuable credential, a motivated student can learn a lot on his own and reduce his time at school and the corresponding cost. A blogger Scott Young has satisfied all requirements of the MIT Computer Science degree in one year, by studying on his own and using MIT course materials posted on the web.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
The modern communications have enabled people to share transportation using services such as Zipcar, Uber and Capital BikeShare.


Meanwhile airfares continue to rise as energy costs decrease and airlines are making record profits. The cost of what was once "mass" transportation has made it nearly inaccessible (or certainly a financial burden) to those who are not at least middle class. Cars are not getting any cheaper.

People share lodging by using AirBnB and Couchsurfing.


As hotels are becoming more expensive. Remember when "Motel 6" was $6.66?

Watching sports on a modern TV is successfully competing with going to a ballpark.


And yet ballparks continue to fill with high paying customers, as do huge rock concerts (despite the fact that the singers' voices are synthetically tuned , the singers are lipsyncing, and they are watching little more than a few gyrating bodies).

People share culinary, medical, and legal information cutting out professionals.


But medical and legal expenses continue spiraling into the stratosphere.

The Bogleheads are reducing the profit margins of financial planners.


(laughing)

Self-education and formal education are blending. Some schools are starting to recognize MOOC certificates, which Corsera now offers for $45 per course. While an Ivy League degree is still a valuable credential, a motivated student can learn a lot on his own and reduce his time at school and the corresponding cost.


Yet private tuitions are now entering the $60-something K/year range and the schools are more competitive than ever. It seems to me like they just about skipped over the fifties.

A blogger Scott Young has satisfied all requirements of the MIT Computer Science degree in one year, by studying on his own and using MIT course materials posted on the web.


I don't know the case, but Scott Young must be remarkable. This is one anecdote. If that was remotely do-able on anything close to a mass level, I would think that a lot more brilliant MIT-types than Young would be pursuing the same course, and MIT would be a one-year institution.

Overall, I am unconvinced. I think you are presenting the promise of the internet economy...what we want it to do for us. The reality does not , IMHO, compare.

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3177
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ged » Wed Jan 14, 2015 3:52 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Rifkin recognizes that established companies tend to become monopolies and oligopolies to defend their profits. But he claims that eventually this defense is broken by the pressure from potential competitors. When the competitors succeed the change is fast and ruthless.

Victoria


Yes, I think that's correct, but it doesn't go far enough. After the change occurs the new competitors entrench their position and become new oligopolies.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:04 pm

protagonist wrote:Overall, I am unconvinced. I think you are presenting the promise of the internet economy...what we want it to do for us. The reality does not , IMHO, compare.


I am presenting the main thesis of the book I am reading (still in early stages) interspersed with my own observations that support this thesis. I have not studied the trends and hard data. Supposedly, the author has; and if true, I will see the supporting evidence later in the book. However, I do stand behind my own experiences. While some flights, hotels, restaurants, cars, concerts, surgeries, etc., are now more expensive than ever, there are also more than ever opportunities to avoid these costs and get things cheaply or free.

The beauty of the Internet is that the information is exchanged quickly and reliably. Someone posts about his cheap cellular plan, someone reports a lucrative credit card offer, someone describes a high-quality low-cost surgery he had in Thailand, etc. The top of the line cellular plans, flights and surgeries are very expensive; the ones found through social networking can be very cheap, indeed.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:36 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:Overall, I am unconvinced. I think you are presenting the promise of the internet economy...what we want it to do for us. The reality does not , IMHO, compare.


While some flights, hotels, restaurants, cars, concerts, surgeries, etc., are now more expensive than ever, there are also more than ever opportunities to avoid these costs and get things cheaply or free.

Victoria


When we get music, video, art, literature, etc cheaply or for free on the internet, for example, we are just devaluing the artist who is not being compensated. Meanwhile the legal and illegal entities that provide us with this content are making huge profits.

When we get flights and hotels with our credit card promotional points, the banks are making huge profits off those who sign up for such bonuses and then become mired in credit card debt. That is why such promotions are offered so freely. For the majority, costs of travel are rising sharply.

I'm not sure about avoiding the cost of land transportation- Zipcars, Uber etc are hardly inexpensive, fill a minor niche. and are more city conveniences than anything else. I don't see the costs decreasing....currently a round-trip subway ride in NYC costs $5 (I think that is typical for cities in the US and Europe) and is supposedly due for another imminent large increase- if one relies on the subway for work and earns minimum wage that is about 40 minutes of work. When I was a kid, minimum wage was $1.60 and a round trip ride was 30 cents (roughly 11 minutes of work?)

I'm uncertain what you are referring to regarding surgery- where in the US one goes for cheap surgery. There was always the option of going to Asia or South America to save money. The only difference now is that more people are forced into that route since they cannot afford care at home.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:45 pm

protagonist wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:Overall, I am unconvinced. I think you are presenting the promise of the internet economy...what we want it to do for us. The reality does not , IMHO, compare.


While some flights, hotels, restaurants, cars, concerts, surgeries, etc., are now more expensive than ever, there are also more than ever opportunities to avoid these costs and get things cheaply or free.

Victoria


When we get music, video, art, literature, etc cheaply or for free on the internet, for example, we are just devaluing the artist who is not being compensated. Meanwhile the legal and illegal entities that provide us with this content are making huge profits.


It's true that artists, writers, journalists, and other content developers are being devalued by the free distribution of their work.

However, I question "huge profits" of content distributors. If the profits are huge, other distributors enter the market at lower profit margins. With ever more entrants, the margins will be approaching zero, which is the premise of the book.


protagonist wrote:When we get flights and hotels with our credit card promotional points, the banks are making huge profits off those who sign up for such bonuses and then become mired in credit card debt. That is why such promotions are offered so freely. For the majority, costs of travel are rising sharply.


Travel is not a necessity.

Banks are making profit off people's greed and disorganization. And even here, the Internet helps. Bloggers promoting travel rewards frequently remind their readers not to play the "game" unless they can manage their cards and pay them in full. For the diligent ones, the discussions in travel fora help to identify banks' tricks.

protagonist wrote:I'm not sure about avoiding the cost of land transportation- Zipcars, Uber etc are hardly inexpensive, fill a minor niche. and are more city conveniences than anything else. I don't see the costs decreasing....currently a round-trip subway ride in NYC costs $5 (I think that is typical for cities in the US and Europe) and is supposedly due for another imminent large increase- if one relies on the subway for work and earns minimum wage that is about 40 minutes of work. When I was a kid, minimum wage was $1.60 and a round trip ride was 30 cents (roughly 11 minutes of work?)


Periodically using Zipcar can be much cheaper than maintaining one's own car, especially in a city where parking is expensive. Public transport is subsidized in NYC, DC, and most other American cities.

The issue of the affordability of life's necessities on a minimum wage is different from the issue of the marginal costs trending towards zero. Public transport will probably never be free, but it can be offered free to those who can't afford it.

protagonist wrote:I'm uncertain what you are referring to regarding surgery- where in the US one goes for cheap surgery. There was always the option of going to Asia or South America to save money. The only difference now is that more people are forced into that route since they cannot afford care at home.


Before the Internet, an idea of going to Thailand for an inexpensive surgery was a non-starter. Now, one can read about Thai hospitals, the credentials of their physicians, and the testimony of their patients. One can conduct an email exchange with some of these patients. One can participate in online fora that discuss medical tourism. Ultimately, this information may enable one to decide to go to Thailand and have the procedure done at a significantly lower cost. The more widespread this process becomes, the more pressure there will be to reduce the cost of procedures in the U.S.

Apart from the medical tourism, telecommunications enable experts to participate in surgeries remotely instead of flying in. Also, as I understand it, some medical procedures are done by specialized remotely-controlled robots.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

chaz
Posts: 13589
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby chaz » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:51 pm

"Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. The movie was excellent. I hope I will say the same about the novel.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

frugalguy
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:17 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby frugalguy » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:[
It's true that artists, writers, journalists, and other content developers are being devalued by the free distribution of their work.


Opinions can vary on whether the demise of content develops is good or bad....irrespective of how it may affect the economy. I personally am sad to see newspapers deteriorate in quality -- in particular, laying off a lot of good reporters/writers, and abandoning investigative reporting almost all together.

On the music side, though, I'm happy to see an interest in the older pop/rock music classics. I'm not convinced that change and progress are automatically good for art (or anything else for that matter), and that includes music. I'm open-minded about the new genres, including rap, but even kids are liking the older stuff that their parents liked. That's almost unheard of. :D I think it's great that they have such a wide exposure to music and that they often prefer the older stuff.

On a related note, I sometimes wonder if certain forms of art can hit a peak. I think the peak in comic strips, for example, was Calivn and Hobbes. Nothing better has emerged since IMO, and the whole field has gotten worse, again, in my opinion.

I like having a healthy stock market and economy, but I think free/low-cost distribution of some things over the Internet allows some of the older classics to be recirculated, reaching new audiences, and I don't think that's a bad thing.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:12 pm

frugalguy wrote:I like having a healthy stock market and economy, but I think free/low-cost distribution of some things over the Internet allows some of the older classics to be recirculated, reaching new audiences, and I don't think that's a bad thing.


What do your friends screenwriters think about this?

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 38202
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby LadyGeek » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:14 pm

We've strayed into a general discussion. Please stay on-topic, which is a discussion of the book you are currently reading - meaning a book review.
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

User avatar
LazyNihilist
Posts: 843
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:56 pm
Location: 6.66% (xirr)
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby LazyNihilist » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:44 am

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro.

What an amazing biography. Showing the use of power by an unelected individual in a democracy.
Further reinforces my notion that power corrupts absolutely everyone and everything. And power wants more power.
The only solution is to prevent institutions/individuals, both private and public from getting too much power.

I felt like an accomplishment completing reading this huge book.
The only problem is Entropy, leading to the eventual heat death of the universe. [Seen on /.]

User avatar
FabLab
Posts: 1127
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:15 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby FabLab » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:05 am

The Sportswriter by Richard Ford. A favorite contemporary novelist of mine. Though I've read all the other works in the Bascombe series this, the first, had escaped me. Actually, since it's been around for awhile (1995), the copy in my local library is so crummy I waited until Santa just gave me this for Christmas.
The fundamental things apply as time goes by -- Herman Hupfeld

User avatar
Offshore
Posts: 358
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:43 am
Location: Michigan's West Coast

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Offshore » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:46 pm

The Goldfinch. Only 38% in (kindle). Good story. Incredible prose.

Lynette
Posts: 1246
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Lynette » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:18 pm

Cuba - what everyone needs to know - Julia Sweig. Moon and Lonely Planet books on Cuba. 501 Spanish verbs - Barrons (I was trained as a Latin teacher). It has a CD that I can listen to in my car. About 6 months ago I signed up for a tour with Roadscholar to Cuba!

jdb
Posts: 1175
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:21 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby jdb » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:25 pm

Recently visiting Chicago went to favorite second hand bookstore in Wicker Park neighborhood, saw like new leather bound 30 year old edition of The Way Of All Flesh, had never read it but remembered favorable comments from Nisprius on this site. Now over half way through, find it a wonderful read, taking my time since enjoying it so much. So Nisprius is not only good for investment advice but also for literature. Thanks.

Puakinekine
Posts: 824
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:18 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Puakinekine » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:06 pm

LazyNihilist wrote:The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert Caro.

What an amazing biography. Showing the use of power by an unelected individual in a democracy.
Further reinforces my notion that power corrupts absolutely everyone and everything. And power wants more power.
The only solution is to prevent institutions/individuals, both private and public from getting too much power.

I felt like an accomplishment completing reading this huge book.


This is a great book. I read it as a teenager when it first came out, which shows how readable Caro made this story about city administration, planning, power and the eventual corruption of power. An excellent accompaniment to this book is Ric Burns' New York:A Documentary. It is an 8 part series that you can watch on You Tube. The first two episodes might be considered a wee bit slow, but then it takes off explaining the rise of the city to the best and perhaps most glorious days of 1940's and early 1950's (at least my father thought so--- he loved his city) to the desperate days of the 70's and early 80's. Robert Moses, through his blind idealism and unchecked power, almost destroyed New York. The only person who had kept him under control had been Fiorello LaGuardia and after LaGuardia died in 1947, Moses was out of control. Caro does a fair bit of the narration and has a lovely old style Bronx accent. I also enjoyed listening to Pete Hamill. I highly recommend the series. Here's the link to episode 7, which I think is most relevant to The Power Broker but you should really watch them all. It is a fascinating story.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko3DQiioGos

mindboggling
Posts: 162
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:35 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby mindboggling » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:57 pm

The last book I read was "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt. I tend not to read non-fiction. I never finished "A Random Walk Down Wall Street", although I certainly appreciate his message.

Steve
In broken mathematics We estimate our prize, --Emily Dickinson

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Jan 16, 2015 8:22 am

Lynette wrote:Cuba - what everyone needs to know - Julia Sweig. Moon and Lonely Planet books on Cuba. 501 Spanish verbs - Barrons (I was trained as a Latin teacher). It has a CD that I can listen to in my car. About 6 months ago I signed up for a tour with Roadscholar to Cuba!


You are way ahead of me. Yesterday, I ordered Destinos textbook and workbook with an intent to watch Annenberg videos and learning Spanish by osmosis.

Buena suerte,
Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:11 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Lynette wrote:Cuba - what everyone needs to know - Julia Sweig. Moon and Lonely Planet books on Cuba. 501 Spanish verbs - Barrons (I was trained as a Latin teacher). It has a CD that I can listen to in my car. About 6 months ago I signed up for a tour with Roadscholar to Cuba!


You are way ahead of me. Yesterday, I ordered Destinos textbook and workbook with an intent to watch Annenberg videos and learning Spanish by osmosis.

Buena suerte,
Victoria


re:Spanish....I watch Veinte Mundos in my hammock every morning. Very good I think for vocabulary and comprehension, and some interesting stories. I miss News in Slow Spanish....loved that podcast but switched when they began asking for money. Not because they are not worth it, but rather because there are so many free alternatives.

I like Destinos, but after starting it a few times in the 1990s I found it hard to stick with it. I don't know why.

If anybody has any other suggestions for excellent Spanish language podcasts, programs or apps (preferably fun as well), please chime in.

Lonely Planet is a decent Cuba guide....best I found. Their "Thorn Tree Travel Forum" on Cuba was very useful to me prior to the first time I visited there.

I have a tiny, skinny book that I imagine was published in the 1930's or earlier called "Spanish Grammar Simplified". I say I imagine, because it is sort of funny...translations like "My brother entered the country illegally at the border in El Paso in 1899", " The tractor is much more efficient for plowing the fields than the horse", or "I would have finished writing Carlos the letter if I hadn't run out of ink in my inkwell". (I made those up but you get the idea). That said, it is really concise and excellent, covering all aspects of Spanish grammar and basic vocabulary in less than 100 pages and about 25 lessons. Every winter when I go back to Venezuela I spend a week or less going through it cover to cover and doing all the exercises...really no more than maybe 5 hours of my time total. I'm certain it is out of print. If you can possibly find it, it is the best book I have encountered for reviewing Spanish grammar anywhere, ever.

I have scanned and copied it onto my laptop, but the file is 52.8 Mb, too big for an email. I'd be happy to share, but my internet connection here is very slow and I don't use the cloud. I could try to email it to you in multiple emails if you are interested and if your email will accommodate large files (assuming my internet can handle it). Or maybe you have a better idea.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:40 am

protagonist wrote:re:Spanish....I watch Veinte Mundos in my hammock every morning. Very good I think for vocabulary and comprehension, and some interesting stories.


Thank you, protagonist. I will check out Veinte Mundos.

protagonist wrote:I miss News in Slow Spanish....loved that podcast but switched when they began asking for money. Not because they are not worth it, but rather because there are so many free alternatives.


I saw News in Slow Spanish and decided to put it aside while I am trying free sources.

protagonist wrote:I like Destinos, but after starting it a few times in the 1990s I found it hard to stick with it. I don't know why.


I hope that peer pressure will help me to stick to Destinos, because it was recommended to me by a friend who let me borrow her books while I am waiting for my own.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
bengal22
Posts: 1211
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2011 6:20 pm
Location: Ohio

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby bengal22 » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:48 am

Inherent Vice - Thomas Pynchon

Once finished I want to dig into a little harder Pynchon - maybe Mason/Dixon or V.

Puakinekine
Posts: 824
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:18 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Puakinekine » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:56 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:re:Spanish....I watch Veinte Mundos in my hammock every morning. Very good I think for vocabulary and comprehension, and some interesting stories.


Thank you, protagonist. I will check out Veinte Mundos.

protagonist wrote:I miss News in Slow Spanish....loved that podcast but switched when they began asking for money. Not because they are not worth it, but rather because there are so many free alternatives.


I saw News in Slow Spanish and decided to put it aside while I am trying free sources.

protagonist wrote:I like Destinos, but after starting it a few times in the 1990s I found it hard to stick with it. I don't know why.


I hope that peer pressure will help me to stick to Destinos, because it was recommended to me by a friend who let me borrow her books while I am waiting for my own.

Victoria


I have watched Destinos many times. The first time through I watched two to three episodes at a time to see what was going to happen. Will Raquel and Arturo ever get together? Will Roberto be found? Will Juan and Pati's marriage survive? Do I want Juan and Pati's marriage to survive? My rudimentary Spanish was good enough to understand what was going on, but I went far to fast to learn much more. (Subjunctive, who really needs that? :annoyed ) This past year I have been going through the series with a friend. We watch an episode, do the homework and then review the chapter in the workbook and try to converse in Spanish. This sometimes leads to the evolution of a new Latinate language of our own invention as we also have Italian and French between us besides English, but that is entertaining as well. I find that this time, having my friend as a reinforcement, has made me much more disciplined in actually using the workbook and pushing myself past my comfort level. A bonus in these programs is the change of accent and vocabulary when Raquel visits different Spanish speaking areas. I have the most difficult time with Argentinian Spanish on the program and when in Argentina, and the easiest time with Puerto Rican Spanish which seems slower and more anglicized to my feeble brain.

Another great help is the Michel Thomas series Learn Spanish. His accent is terrible, but I still go back to the last 2 or 3 lessons every once and a while for review. Many people recommend the US State Department tapes, but I was turned off by the immense amount of time they spent going over how to ask where the US Embassy is, and how to change money.

Unfortunately I live in an area that has very few native Spanish speakers and almost no Spanish teachers, so I have to do it on my own. But given the opportunity, I would leap at the chance of having a tutor or a class, because you need to speak the language to learn it. I am fairly good on paper,but whenever I need to use Spanish when traveling, I am often unable to think on my feet and become tongue tied.

I will try Veinte Mundos. Thanks for the recommendation.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 38202
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby LadyGeek » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:48 pm

Learning Spanish is discussed in the forum. I recommend starting a new thread or jumping onto an existing one. Here's an example: Learning a NEW language - Foreign Service Inst
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

User avatar
Ricola
Posts: 582
Joined: Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:38 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ricola » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:29 pm

Just completed:

Ford County by John Grisham
Thoroughly enjoyable, what a great story teller John Grisham is.

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg
A revealing look into how a successful company operates in the digital era.

MP173
Posts: 1759
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby MP173 » Fri Jan 16, 2015 2:36 pm

jbd:

What is the name of the used book store in Wicker Park. Going to be in the area tomorrow.

Since the last report...

"Deadline" John Sandford. Virgil Flowers investigates the theft of dogs in rural Minnesota and while there a meth operation is discovered and the local School Board is involved in embezzlement of lots of $$$. Busy week for Virgil.

"Keeping the Railroad Running" by Karl Borntrager. I would be surprized if anyone on this board has read this thin volume. It covers the 50 year career of a railroader (ending as Sr. VP for New York Central in 1957). Very readable and insightful. It was published in 1974 at the height of the railroad industry ills. His employer, New York Central, merged with Pennsylvania to form the Penn Central and all hell broke loose. He offers his suggestions for revitilizing the industry and his advise was pretty accurate.

Ed

Lynette
Posts: 1246
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Lynette » Fri Jan 16, 2015 3:54 pm

Lady Geek. I posted my reply in the thread you gave. I was trained as a Latin teacher .. so grammar is easy for me.

jdb
Posts: 1175
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:21 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby jdb » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:25 pm

MP173 wrote:jbd:

What is the name of the used book store in Wicker Park. Going to be in the area tomorrow.


Ed

Myopic Books on North Milwaukee Avenue. I love second hand bookstores with no pretensions and that is a good one. Their leather bound out of print better stuff (such as they are) is in the front, and inexpensive. Wicker Park neighborhood itself always a nice place to visit in my favorite big city. Enjoy.

Fallible
Posts: 5932
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:44 pm
Contact:

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Fallible » Mon Jan 19, 2015 12:09 pm

Read all and then reread parts of Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, who seems to be a very special doctor and human being. I learned much more about decisions to be made when one is faced with terminal illness, about palliative care, the need for more geriatric physicians, the failures of assisted living and nursing home care, and the limits of medical science. But it's the patients he writes about, including his father, also a physician, that are so deeply moving and bring home his message, three scenes in particular: Gawande struggling to find a way to let an amazingly upbeat cancer patient know the end is near and then her sudden, heartbreaking realization; Gawande, his cancer-stricken father and two other doctors discussing and often disagreeing on surgery; and the highly competent hospice worker who quickly and firmly establishes a new and needed line of communication with Gawande and his father, and also between father and son.

“We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine,” Gawande writes. “We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.”
Bogleheads® wiki | Investing Advice Inspired by Jack Bogle

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 33419
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby nisiprius » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:07 am

VictoriaF wrote:...
protagonist wrote:I miss News in Slow Spanish....loved that podcast but switched when they began asking for money. Not because they are not worth it, but rather because there are so many free alternatives.
I saw News in Slow Spanish and decided to put it aside while I am trying free sources...
I love it and I decided to pay for it because it is perfect for my level. I tried a month and was delighted to find that they do NOT autorenew, and to tell the truth I may have re-upped just because I was so pleased with that. I use and like many free "alternatives" but for me News in Slow Spanish is just right. It is very well designed, well scripted, interesting subject matter. I really like the format of a "news" story delivered by announcer followed by (scripted) "conversation."

Since this is a book thread, I'll add that the fact that you can almost always download the first chapter of any Amazon Kindle book as a "free sample" gives me access to a wealth of contemporary Spanish-language material at no cost, including translations of familiar English books. I'll know that I actually "know Spanish" when the day comes that I finish a sample and can't resist buying the rest of the book. (Cue Aragorn, "The day may come... but this is not that day.")
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:09 am

nisiprius wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:...
protagonist wrote:I miss News in Slow Spanish....loved that podcast but switched when they began asking for money. Not because they are not worth it, but rather because there are so many free alternatives.
I saw News in Slow Spanish and decided to put it aside while I am trying free sources...
I love it and I decided to pay for it because it is perfect for my level. I tried a month and was delighted to find that they do NOT autorenew, and to tell the truth I may have re-upped just because I was so pleased with that. I use and like many free "alternatives" but for me News in Slow Spanish is just right. It is very well designed, well scripted, interesting subject matter. I really like the format of a "news" story delivered by announcer followed by (scripted) "conversation."

Since this is a book thread, I'll add that the fact that you can almost always download the first chapter of any Amazon Kindle book as a "free sample" gives me access to a wealth of contemporary Spanish-language material at no cost, including translations of familiar English books. I'll know that I actually "know Spanish" when the day comes that I finish a sample and can't resist buying the rest of the book. (Cue Aragorn, "The day may come... but this is not that day.")


Muchas gracias, nisiprius, estas son puntas buenas.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 33419
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby nisiprius » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:16 am

Love Over Scotland, by Alexander McCall Smith, but I'm not loving it as much as Espresso Tales and maybe I'll take a break from the series when I finish it. Cued up (can't resist Amazon's bargain prices): Memories of Another Day by Harold Robbins and Bagmen by William Lashner. (Yes, Harold Robbins. I rather like his earlier books before it started to be about nothing but sex and drugs, or sex while taking drugs, or drugs while having sex).

And skimming Larry Swedroe and Kevin Grogan, Reducing the Risk of Black Swans: Using the Science of Investing to Capture Returns with Less Volatility. Among other things, it seems to have a very useful canonical exposition of the DFA-pattern methodology. I really want to put scare quotes around the word "science" in that title.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:32 pm

nisi, I agree about News in Slow Spanish, and may be inclined to return to it. You might check out "Veinte Mundos" (webpage, good for tablets). It's free, at a similar level, and I like the "flash card" approach to the dialogue vocabulary....I think it sinks in better. Not quite as interesting as NISS, but interesting nonetheless (you can choose your topics), and the vocabulary is more varied (because of the nature of NISS, it keeps coming back to words like "gunshot", "attack", "surrender", etc.)

My recent posting of the word "granfalloon" when I probably meant "karass" induced me to go back to reading Cat's Cradle, which I haven't touched in about 45 years. I am finding it even more entertaining the second time around, partly perhaps because Kurt Vonnegut's daughter Nanny (subject of Scott Prior's beautiful painting in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) became a neighbor who I got to know, and partly because of viewing it through the retrospectoscope. I am only about 20% through it but find myself laughing out loud in my hammock. I am thinking of becoming a Bokononist. Three main reasons:
1. Its nonsense sort of makes sense. "Live by the foma that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy".
2. Its tenets are written in calypsos, which appeals to my Caribbean soul.
3. "Bokononist" sounds better than "Boglehead".

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3177
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ged » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:48 pm

I have started Phillip K Dick's novel, The Man in The High Castle which won the Hugo in 1962. Motivation for reading this now is that Amazon has a pilot for a series based on the novel that is being produced by Ridley Scott. It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan. It makes heavy use of the I Ching as a literary device.

I was very impressed by the quality of the pilot, and since reviews are very strong it is quite possible it will turn into a series.

protagonist
Posts: 4682
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby protagonist » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:00 pm

Ged wrote: It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan.


I have thought about a "historical fiction what-if" scenario based on the Confederacy winning the Civil War and remaining intact as a separate nation with slavery into the 20th century, in which case they may well have sided with Hitler in WW 2, bringing WW 2 onto our soil, and with possible disastrous consequences for the allies.
Not at all out of the realm of possibility.

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3177
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ged » Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:28 pm

protagonist wrote:I have thought about a "historical fiction what-if" scenario based on the Confederacy winning the Civil War and remaining intact as a separate nation with slavery into the 20th century, in which case they may well have sided with Hitler in WW 2, bringing WW 2 onto our soil, and with possible disastrous consequences for the allies.
Not at all out of the realm of possibility.


One of the things that I've thought about in the context of this book is that it was published in 1962. This must have given rise to much stronger reactions 50 years ago than it does today when there were many more people around that had experienced the war directly. The pilot itself was pretty strong stuff for even today.

Valuethinker
Posts: 31762
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:36 pm

protagonist wrote:
Ged wrote: It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan.


I have thought about a "historical fiction what-if" scenario based on the Confederacy winning the Civil War and remaining intact as a separate nation with slavery into the 20th century, in which case they may well have sided with Hitler in WW 2, bringing WW 2 onto our soil, and with possible disastrous consequences for the allies.
Not at all out of the realm of possibility.


the subject of many alternative history novels.

In particular The Shiloh Project (author escapes me, published back in the 1980s). The CSA starts working on the automic bomb.

And a series of linked novels by Harry Turtledove. Settling Accounts and The Great War (I think).

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/harry-turtledove/

In truth the CSA was anglo-philiac, and aristocratic Britain returned the favour (working class Britain did not). Suppose Britain had been dragged into the war on the CSA side and ended the blockade plus tied down significant Union forces invading Canada or protecting from invasion from Canada. It was naval supremacy that in large part gave the Union victory (the original Union strategy was entitled 'Operation Anaconda' ie to squeeze the CSA to death)-- the blockade by 1863 prevented the CSA getting the necessary war materiel, and it lacked domestic industry. Further, it was Farragut's attack up the Mississippi and Porter's gunboats working alongside Grant that allowed Grant to cut the Confederacy in two, and open the way for Sherman to march into Georgia whilst Grant defeated Lee. Without Union naval supremacy (and the Royal Navy was the undisputed master of the oceans) the CSA might have survived.

CSA might then have joined in WW1 against Germany. And probably would have been with Canada and the other Dominions in enthusiastically joining the war against Hitler in September 1939.

There's precedent. South Africa was an entirely racially segregated state (although not officially until 1949). Although a faction of South Africans (who had recently fought a bitter war with the British 1898-1902: guerilla war, the invention of concentration camps (not death camps, but mass prison camps) etc. did ride into Namibia and try to ally with the Kaiser in 1914, that was rapidly crushed by SA forces who joined the Empire in the struggle against the Kaiser in East Africa, the Middle East and Europe. And, again in 1939-45 South Africans fought bravely. Perhaps the greatest squadron leader of the Battle of Britain, 'Sailor' Malaan, was of Afrikaans origin I believe. They served very bravely at El Alamein amongst others.

So despite an officially racialist policy, the CSA felt closer to the old Empire than the Yankees and the Midwesterners (isolationism was strongest there in 1914 and 1939, reflecting the large German populations in places like St. Louis).

Also remember the Zimmerman Telegram? What if the German Foreign Office had sent that (proposing a Japanese and Mexican alliance to regain territory lost in 1845) and it had turned up in Richmond? With Texas and its oil the jewel of the CSA?

Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee is the classic alternative history novel about the CSA winning via Lee winning Gettysburg.
Last edited by Valuethinker on Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Valuethinker
Posts: 31762
Joined: Fri May 11, 2007 11:07 am

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Valuethinker » Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:41 pm

Ged wrote:I have started Phillip K Dick's novel, The Man in The High Castle which won the Hugo in 1962. Motivation for reading this now is that Amazon has a pilot for a series based on the novel that is being produced by Ridley Scott. It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan. It makes heavy use of the I Ching as a literary device.

I was very impressed by the quality of the pilot, and since reviews are very strong it is quite possible it will turn into a series.


Interesting they are finally making it.

Like a lot of Dick I felt it promised more than it delivered. But I *did* like it, because it twists (rather in the way Ang Lee's movies don't go where you think they are going: Ride with the Devil, The Ice Storm etc.).

He's too nice about the Japanese. He gets the horror of the Nazi Empire nicely right-- hunting down the last Jews etc, the internal rivalries as the Fuhrer ages. It's a powerful novel in a lot of ways-- it stays with you.

Probably it's in the Dick canon, with about 8 other novels. I think his latter ones are thought to be inferior. He remains perhaps America's foremost modernist SF author (on the English side, you've got JG Ballard) along with William Gibson (who lives in Canada, in fact, but was born in America). I mean Harlan Ellison yes (I find Ellison stories nasty, and not just his suing his fans, or things like sitting on an unpublished book including stories by authors now dead-- however Ellison wrote some fantastic tv scripts ("City on the Edge of Forever" in Star Trek, and a couple in the aborted series 'Logan's Run', and the script that was stolen and became 'Robocop' (both as a movie and as a tv series_-- from memory James Cameron paid some big settlement to Ellison after admitting he had been inspired by Ellison for Terminator). But Dick probably is the absolute doyen of the American modernist SF writer.

Perhaps no surprise Dick's papers are at the Orange County Library (the launch control centre in the movie Gattacca, one of my favourite SF movies, in fact one of my favourite movies (up there with Blade Runner and The Ice Storm and The Big Sleep)). Orange County town center was also the scene for the ultimate showdown in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, where the Ape Revolution begins-- there's a long running interaction between that sort of 60s Modernist architecture and Science Fiction. (Clockwork Orange of course, is set in Thamesmeade, an unsuccessful postwar modernist redevelopment in south London). Alphaville (Paris as an alien planet).

There is something about LA, because when Dick fled the counterculture of SF in the 1960s he wound up there. And Ray Bradbury lived there his whole life. As has Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (OK they are totally retrograde as SF authors-- but Niven had some amazing ideas in Known Space-- organlegging hardly seems fictional now). And I think also Jack Vance?

User avatar
Ged
Posts: 3177
Joined: Mon May 13, 2013 1:48 pm
Location: Roke

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Ged » Tue Jan 20, 2015 6:45 pm

Ellison's work for Outer Limits is also high quality. Demon with a Glass Hand is one of the best TV scripts ever, and of course Soldier which was the basis for the Terminator plagiarism suit. Rumors are out there about a sequel for Demon written for Babylon 5, however that is maybe just talk.

Ursula LeGuin has made some very complementary comments about The Man in The High Castle as being inspirational to her, in particular as an example of when an SF author takes themselves seriously as a novelist. PKD has also gotten some credit for foreshadowing postmodernism. Not sure what to think of that yet as I have some strong personal objections to postmodernism.

It's interesting that I am back to reading PKD now. I read Three Stigmata and Electric Sheep 50 years ago. I didn't particularly like these then... but I was pretty young at the time.

Another aspect of this was the quality of the pilot. The stuff Ridley Scott has been producing lately has been not great. I was starting to wonder if his flame had gone out. This was a pretty strong counter-argument.

User avatar
Petrocelli
Posts: 2723
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:29 pm
Location: Fenway Park, between 2nd and 3rd base

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Petrocelli » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:40 pm

I just finished Olive Kitteredge. It won the Pulitzer, and was made into an HBO mini-series. See the mini-series, and then read the book.

I just start The Boys in The Boat, which is about the 1936 Olympic rowing team from the University of Washington.
Petrocelli (not the real Rico, but just a fan)

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16627
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:12 pm

protagonist wrote:
Ged wrote: It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan.


I have thought about a "historical fiction what-if" scenario based on the Confederacy winning the Civil War and remaining intact as a separate nation with slavery into the 20th century, in which case they may well have sided with Hitler in WW 2, bringing WW 2 onto our soil, and with possible disastrous consequences for the allies.
Not at all out of the realm of possibility.


If the Confederacy had won the Civil War, the U.S. would not have purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The Soviet revolution of 1917 would have spread to Alaska and from there to Canada, making Canada a part of the Eastern Block. When the German army would have invaded the U.S. from the South, it would be stopped by the Soviet-Canadian military force. Royal Canadian Mountain Police would be called Proletarian Canadian Mountain Police and it would make critical contributions in defeating the Axis Powers.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

User avatar
Petrocelli
Posts: 2723
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:29 pm
Location: Fenway Park, between 2nd and 3rd base

Re: What Book Are You Currently Reading? Part VI

Postby Petrocelli » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:21 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:
Ged wrote: It's an alternate history where the US lost WWII and is occupied by Germany and Japan.


I have thought about a "historical fiction what-if" scenario based on the Confederacy winning the Civil War and remaining intact as a separate nation with slavery into the 20th century, in which case they may well have sided with Hitler in WW 2, bringing WW 2 onto our soil, and with possible disastrous consequences for the allies.
Not at all out of the realm of possibility.


If the Confederacy had won the Civil War, the U.S. would not have purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The Soviet revolution of 1917 would have spread to Alaska and from there to Canada, making Canada a part of the Eastern Block. When the German army would have invaded the U.S. from the South, it would be stopped by the Soviet-Canadian military force. Royal Canadian Mountain Police would be called Proletarian Canadian Mountain Police and it would make critical contributions in defeating the Axis Powers.



I always wonder about a "what if scenario" under which the Patriots beat the Giants twice.
Petrocelli (not the real Rico, but just a fan)


Return to “Personal Consumer Issues”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: abner kravitz, bottlecap, deet0013, emoore, ikowik, jebmke, KlangFool, Lakeparty, mfrank84, mmmodem, Morford, Pax, wvmtnbkr and 92 guests