Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

I’d tell you that I’m keeping up with my Economics 101 course. I haven’t done much algebra since high school so that’s a feat.

We had a fun Thanksgiving with relatives from out of town, but I forgot how much work these celebrations are. I’d say my sister did most of the work, but still there was a lot to do. Yes, we had a lot of help, but at a certain point adding more people creates more work. I think there’s a theory or law that states as much.

I’ve started watching The Crown. I’m captivated by the stories, but not quite sure what I think of the new cast. I’ll let you know about that.

I resume working for the Census on Monday and will have 3 days of training this week. I’m curious what our next operation entails. I’m also looking forward to an evening cooking event at my library. It’s on holiday appetizers.

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

I’d tell you that last Monday we had another Library Board Meeting. Several members of the public, who’d spoken the previous month and asked that their comments be published in the Minutes in full, were upset that they weren’t. Short summaries that sugar-coated their remarks were there instead. This Board certainly isn’t willing to serve their community. They have their own interests, which I can’t fathom, at heart.

I have been working on my economics class and I’m enjoying it, despite the amount of algebra involved. University of the People is mainly taught via textbooks so I found a good video source, as I like that style of learning combined with books. Hillsdale College has an Economics 101 course.
 

I’m reading Edward Rutherfurd’s The Princes of Ireland and am captivated by the ancient history in the novel.

My sister, niece and nephew just arrived for Thanksgiving. On Wednesday my other sister and her husband will arrive. This year we’ll all be her for Thanksgiving, which hasn’t happened in years.

Happy Thanksgiving!
 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

I’d tell you it’s been a quiet week, but busy. I spent a lot of time gathering data from a national website on libraries to refute the inaccurate information the director at my hometown library has used to defend her performance. It took hours to pull specific towns from all the libraries in the state. At one point I accidentally lost a chart and at the last minute had to recreate it. I hate rushing, but the work got one and it was well received.

I started another online class through the University of the People. I’d signed up for Algebra and Economics, but dropped Algebra as soon as I read the textbook. With U of the People because it’s tuition free there’s no lecture from the teacher it’s all textbook and this book was written as poorly as I remember my high school text was. I will stick with Economics as it’s a general overview and while it’s not my strong suit, I realize how understanding the economy better is useful.

I went to a book club discussion of Lucretius’ The Nature of Things, which I first read while studying classics. We got a good number of people, several new ones. The Nature of Things is a poem about science and ethics. We just read the first 2 parts. It’s amazing how Lucretius figured out things that modern scientists have supported.

Wednesday I plan to attend another book club on Fiona Barton’s The Suspect. It’s mainly set in Thailand where two British girls are found dead in a fire. The heroine is a journalist whose estranged son is off finding himself and saving turtles in Phuket, Thailand . . . or so she thinks. I’m not sure how much I like the story yet.

 

Death by China

This video should be required viewing. It shows how since joining the WTO, China has uses currency manipulation, protectionism, lack of ethics vis-a-vis workers’ rights and pollution to gain economic dominance. It proves, as the book Poorly Made in China does, that China is outmaneuvering the world when it comes to business competition.

Narrated by Martin Sheen and based on Peter Narravo’s book by the same title, the documentary clearly explains how China’s strategy to decimate its environment costing thousands of lives by allowing rampant pollution, how its currency manipulation works as a tariff, and how they have no plan to open their markets to foreign companies. Instead their game is to steal as much intellectual property they can so that they can just make their own cars, machines, electronics, etc. using the know-how of other countries to move forward.

The experts interviewed have great credentials and their insights line up with what I saw and heard when living in China. The pollution and lack of ethics are not exaggerated. Yes, most of the people I knew were nice, but there is a glaring lack of ethics and the good people were afraid of standing up for what is right. And it’s true that the government’s philosophy is completely contrary to Enlightenment principles.

Once they are on top there will be no catching them. The film shines like on what we should do now.

Economix

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Michael Goodwin and Dan Burr’s Economix (2012) is a graphic nonfiction book that explains economic principles in an accessible way. The book uses the narrative of a guy trying to learn more about economics to engage the reader. Organized chronologically, Economix begins just at the 17th century, though the author notes that economics pre-dates that era, but people didn’t know how to analyze it.

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The book was most helpful to me when it explained new concepts or elucidated ideas like “supply and demand” which have more complexity under certain situations. I liked learning about economists I hadn’t heard of such as David Ricardo.

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N.B. Neither Economix authors agree with Malthus

I appreciated learning that world and national economies are often so multifaceted that it’s (practically) impossible to predict or understand them. That assertion seems honest and I hadn’t heard that before that I can recall.

Towards current era, the authors state that the book will be more aligned with the Democrats and appreciated that admission. It’s unmistakable, but their statement made me trust their final chapters more. I do think the book would be better if it wasn’t so connected to American history and used more examples from all over the world, however, I guess they authors didn’t think their audience was very cosmopolitan.

All in all, Economix is a good introduction to economics, dark science that I’m trying to learn more about.

China & the Lewis Turning Point

According to the Financial Times, China’s boom has peaked and opportunities are drying up. This short video is well made and includes interesting interviews with Chinese factory workers who’re heading home or contemplating such a move and with a Vietnamese worker who went to China. I had no idea that Chinese factories were bringing in illegal workers from Vietnam.

To Marry an English Lord

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If you like Downton Abbey, you really should read Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace’s  To Marry an English Lord. I got the audio book from the library. The narrator had the perfect voice, elegant and slightly aristocratic.

To Marry an English Lord presents all sorts of facts and vignettes about the American heiresses, and there were dozens if not hundreds, who crossed the ocean to marry well. The focus is on New York socialites, whose fathers had fortunes, but couldn’t break into the elite circle of the Kickerbockers. Kickerbockers were the descendants of the first New York settlers from Holland, these people wore knickerbockers, i.e. pants that stopped at the knees. No amount of money could get you into their social circle so those with new money headed for England where they were welcomed not just for their money (though that was key) but also because American girls were so open, confident and free. British girls were sheltered and shy. They were chaperoned everywhere, but the American parents gave their girls a lot more freedom. And they had much larger clothing allowances. A British girl would make do with 3 new gowns a season, but the American would get 18 or so spending about $500.000 in todays money (plus a 50% tariff). The British men noticed, in droves apparently.

The book covers every aspect of the women’s lives from dress, parents, education, hobbies and such to marriage, infidelity and socializing. I found it quite interesting that these girls had the best of all worlds because as was typical in the U.S. at the time they were encouraged to be spirited and confident as debutantes and unlike the women who married in America after they wed they could follow the custom of getting involved in politics or writing, which was normal in England.

The book is a solid and entertaining social history that makes me think a real life Cora had more meaningful work to do, more extravagant parties to give, more friendships and probably more infidelity than we see on Downton Abbey. (Mind you I’m happy Cora did not hop into bed with Bricker, the bounder.) The authors’ style is full of wit and energy.

While I enjoyed being able to listen as I drove, I think I’ll get the actual book, because I can envision wanting to fact check the history and that’s hard to do with a CD.