Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Three Mini Book Reviews

How's Your Drink (3/5)

"By portraying himself as a man who enjoyed drinks in abstemious moderation, T.R. managed a straddle of Clintonian sophistication: He may have sipped the occasional Mint Julep, but he didn't inhale them.

Roosevelt testified that in the years since he left the White House he had put only two Mint Juleps to his lips. One of those, he said, was at the St. Louis Country Club, where he only took a couple of sips. The St. Louis Post Dispatch teasingly accused T.R. of perjury. After all, the Mint Juleps made by the country club's bartender, Tom Bullock, were just too good for anyone to taste and put aside. 'To believe that a red-blooded man, and a true Colonel at that, ever stopped with just a part of one of those refreshments,' the Post Dispatch editorialized, 'is to strain credulity too far.'"
Prohibition (1920-1933) is so far in the past that it is hard to fathom. Remember that Prohibition ruined fine dining for decades in the U.S.; especially French cuisine with wine parings and wine-based sauces that were illegal, and that per capita alcohol consumption did not regain pre-prohibition levels until 1973! What federal government nonsense today will seem equally absurd in 2097?

The Sociopath Next Door (3.5/5)
"Our normal affinity for the occasional thrill can make the risk-taking sociopath seem all the more charming - at first. Initially, it can be exciting to be invited into the risky scheme, to be associated with the person who is making choices outside of our ordinary boundaries.

Let us take your credit card and fly to Paris tonight. Let us take your savings and start the business that sounds so foolish but, with two minds like ours, could really take off. Let us go down to the beach and watch the hurricane. Let us get married right now. Let us lose these boring friends of yours and go off somewhere by ourselves. Let us have sex in the elevator. Let us invest your money in this hot tip I just got. Let us laugh at the rules. Let us walk into this restaurant dressed in our T-shirts and jeans. Let us see how fast your car can go. Let us live a little."
Wall Street and finance are full of sociopaths. They are incompetent investors, and it is a shame that the sociopaths who gambled their firms and lost were bailed out and allowed to continue to direct production.

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (3/5)
"We usually imagine that invention occurs in a flash, with a eureka moment that leads a lone inventor toward a startling epiphany. In truth, large leaps forward in technology rarely have a precise point of origin. At the start, forces that precede an invention merely begin to align, often imperceptibly, as a group of people and ideas converge, until over the course of months or years (or decades) they gain clarity and momentum and the help of additional ideas and actors. Luck seems to matter, and so does timing, for it tends to be the case that the right answers, the right people, the right place–perhaps all three–require a serendipitous encounter with the right problem. And then–sometimes–a leap. Only in retrospect do such leaps look obvious. When Niels Bohr–along with Einstein, the world’s greatest physicist–heard in 1938 that splitting a uranium atom could yield a tremendous burst of energy, he slapped his head and said, 'Oh, what idiots we have all been!'"
Simultaneous invention. This book is a history of Bell Labs and the many important inventions of the scientists there: transistor, solar cells, telephone switching, cell phones, etc. See also the socionomic perspective from Prechter on the timing of the antitrust lawsuit against AT&T in 1974 (following major bear market) and the breakup into Baby Bells in 1982 (following another bear market).


CP said...

"In the presidential election of 1916, the Democratic incumbent, Woodrow Wilson, and the Republican candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, ignored the prohibition issue, as did both parties' political platforms. Democrats and Republicans had strong wet and dry factions, and the election was expected to be close, with neither candidate wanting to alienate any part of his political base."

CP said...

Wilson beat Hughes by 3,800 votes in swing state California.

With Hughes instead of Wilson, would there have been American involvement in WWI, the horrible Treaty of Versailles, and all that followed?

CP said...

Hughes was appointed Chief Justice of the "Supreme" Court by Hoover and held the position from 1930-1941.

Hughes as Chief Justice swore in Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, 1937 and 1941.

CP said...

Supporters of the [18th] Amendment soon became confident that it would not be repealed. One of its creators, Senator Morris Sheppard, joked that "there is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a humming-bird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail."