March 2009 Reading List

  1. Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

    Rereading after seeing previews for the upcoming movie. Movie looks good. Book is still pretty good as well.

    1. Choices, by Michael D. Resnik

    Primer on decision theory, probability, and game theory from a philosopher’s point of view. Good stuff as a reference. 3. Fashionable Nonsense, Bruce Wilshire

    Rutger’s philosopher attacks ‘analytic philosophy’ and over-professionalization of philosophy. Not quite clear on what his alternative program would be but he does give some good props to the American pragmatists and hints at a more phenomenological point of view. 4. Renewing Philosophy, by Hilary Putnam

    Some interesting hints about Wittgenstein and religion in the end chapters. Again not giving it enough time to find out what kind of renewal for which he wishes. Read a bit more and the book feels scattered, a number of lectures without connecting theme that I can detect. 5. On the History of Film Style, David Bordwell

    Basic outline of how the idea of film style has changed over time. Starting with the early standard picture which told how film became a medium and achieved it’s greatest visual synthesis in the silent era before sound brought it back to the staid confines of theatrical metaphors. 6. Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin

    Memoir about Martin’s early career in standup comedy. Quick read, some good bits of time period nostalgia. I hoped for more meat and reflection on how he created his standup comedy but the moments of reflection are slim. 7. The Family Trade, by Charlie Stross

    Fun and entertaining story about a young woman who finds she has the ability to walk between alternate worlds. The trait is controlled by the Clan, a group of feudal nobles who run the alternate-Earth society like a medieval fiefdom. She decides to modernize their trade by creating a better business model than mercantilist import/export. 8. The Powers to Lead, by Joseph S. Nye

    Brief and cogent book about the sociological research on leadership. Much better than most anecdotal business treatments of this topic - actually wrestles with power on a conceptual level. 9. A Demon of Our Own Design, by Richard Bookstaber

    Bookstaber was a quant on Wall Street from the 1980s to the early 2000s and witnesse the expansion of complicated financial instruments. He writes in 2007 that all of them are subject to normal accidents and tight-coupling which threatens to derail the entire financial system.

    My favorites of the month were Stross for a rollicking good yarn and the Nye and Bookstaber.