I’ve read a few books recently which I think you may find very interesting. One is positive and illuminating, the other is explanatory and unconventional, and the last one is damn right depressing. As such, we shall follow in this order.
Book One: “Embracing the Wide Sky” – Daniel Tammet.
In the case that you don’t know who Daniel Tammet is (and I didn’t before reading this book) I think that you should read the following excerpt from his book:
“When I recited the mathematical constant pi (3.141 …) from memory to 22,514 decimal places in March 2004, it seemed like magic to everyone. In fact the achievement (a European record) was the result of disciplined study aided by the unusual way in which my mind perceives numbers, as complex, multidimensional, coloured and textured shapes.”
Daniel is a Savant, but no idiot at that. His command over language is as astonishing as the mathematical feat above. He covers a variety of subjects but also very importantly gives us a better understanding of “Savant” like phenomena and what might be their Modus Operandi.
The crux of it all is that Tammet believes that his numerical and linguistic gifts are the result of the unusual hyper-connectivity of the neurons in his brain. In this case the hyper-connectivity has produced a Savant type intelligence, more generally hyper-connectivity may be the cause of autism.
If Tammet is right then I am slightly saddened because my jealous bones tell me that my intelligence is fixed. I often find it very difficult searching for words inside my head and more often than not I am actually lost for words. This happens to me in all the languages I speak and is more pronounced when I am talking. Funnily the lost word syndrome is less debilitating when I am at the key board. If Tammet’s theory is correct I may find that I will always be lost for words, and stuck with a under-connected brain.
Anyway, I highly recommend the book to anyone interested about minds and how they function. The book is narrative and not scientific, which for a geek like me is a bit disappointing. Perhaps I will write a note to the author requesting a more technical book next time round.
Book Two: “The Origin of Financial Crises” – George Cooper.
This was a very enjoyable book and will serve as excellent fodder to anyone who wants to understand financial systems. The book is well written, easy to understand and for the most part uncomplicated. Finding such a combination in books about financial systems is very difficult, believe me.
So what does Cooper talk about? To put it succinctly what cooper really tries to differentiate and communicate is that:
1) How the current management systems of managing financial transactions leads to instability. This ranges for the creation of Fiat money systems, central bank governance, credit-debt creation and annihilation.
2) A thorough understanding that Asset Markets and Consumer Goods Markets operate under fundamentally different laws, which if not understood, will lead to disaster. And according to the author, this is not understood.
3) The the Efficient Market Hypothesis is a load of Cr*p. Which I happen to highly agree with.
Overall I tended to agree with Mr. Cooper on most of his analysis. Strangely though I felt something is missing. Probably the lack of mathematics, although that may not be it. I have wanted to write a book on Financial Systems and Economic Theory for about 5 years and never got round to it.
Funnily, George says a big dollop of what I wanted to say, but not enough. His focus was too narrow.
Who is this book for: anyone who needs and introduction to Financial systems and how they work. For the experts and or enthusiasts it may also serve as a good refresher read.
Book Three: The Vanishing Face of Gaia. A Final Warning – James Lovelock
Perhaps it is his age, or the sheer frustration that no one is listening that forced Mr/Dr Lovelock to write this absolute and sharpest diatribe on the face of humanity. If there is anything thats going to make you feel anything but lecherous, it is the strong and indignant words of James Lovelock.
If you haven’t heard of Gaia Theory or read any of James Lovelock’s previous works I suggest that you start there first. This book has very little science and reminds me more of the lunatic bible bashers that you come across, on the streets of London. “Heed my warning and let Jesus save your souls”, they shout upon the deaf and disgruntled ears of commuters and shoppers that pass them.
Unfortunately in this case the ‘lunatic’ might actually be right. I find myself inclined to believing in him. Not just based this present work but on his previous credentials as well.
There is no doubt in my mind that Lovelock has a brilliant mind, is scientifically truthful, and has created a way of describing the earth and its systems which is sheer poetry.
What he says makes sense.
One of the most influential points on which he has managed to convince me is that we do need – Nuclear Energy – and we need it fast.
What he has also managed to convince me is that in the end we probably wont be able to avert disaster. After all we are just evolved hunter gathers and our collective intelligence is probably not up to the task we are now presented with.
My own experience tells me the same. No one I love or am close to reads a single thing I recommend them, with the exception of one cousin.
Our brains are trained to be insular and we love to follow herd behaviour. The number of independent thinkers in this world in vanishingly small and the number of independent thinkers in positions of real power is even smaller.
If Lovelock is right in his climatic and earth system predictions, we really should heed this final warning.