Book review – the why axis: Hidden Motives and the undiscovered economics of everyday life

Hidden motives and undiscovered economics of everyday life. Intriguing subtitle isn’t it? But it’s the way the authors discover what motivates people to do things , via field experiments. To see what works if you want to motivate people to behave a certain way.

It seems logical to try stuff out and see what works and what not. But for economy it’s always been more about reasoning and building mathematical stuff to see if it holds up. And changing some parameters and checking what this does with the outcome.

This book is about real world field experiments with control groups. It’s the just trying and seeing what works. It’s about stimulating behavior which is good for people by means of rewards.

Apart from the rewards , it’s also about who you need to motivate and seeing what else is necessary , how to formulate the proposition for instance.

The book covers experiments with discrimination, education, crime and so on. It’s easy to read and understandable for everyone. It’s a book you can read if you don’t want to read a thriller or a heavy scientific book.

It’s nicely sets the argument for more field experiments to really see what happens in real life and what works and what not. In stead of just reasoning everything to the last comma. This goes for everyone, just experiment and do stuff.

Book review – Moonshot

It’s been a while since my last book review, I have been reading some but not that much. This book, Moonshot and the subject really spoke to me. And also confirmed some of the things I was already seeing in broader society.

It’s about the necessity of a strong government in solving the issues we as a society face. And working towards those goals in a goal oriented way. And how the absence of the government has created some of the problems we face today.

It’s about those projects that are of vital importance to society but are way out of reach by any standard in todays possibilities , technological or otherwise. And which needs to be done in a relatively short amount of time. Let’s say a moon landing.

It’s about what it takes to het there and how a government unlike most cooperations isn’t bound by shareholders demanding annual dividends, budgets (in some ways) and innovation.

Innovation as an obstacle ? Yes, most if not all innovation comes out of government programs, stuff like radar, lenses , the internet, all out of government funded research facilities. It’s not your average company that does all the hard innovative work, they come up with the consumer products, and be that much later.

The current belief in the market as a one stop shop for the worlds lager problems is flawed , capitalism as the solution bringer an illusion. Without a strong government who sets out the goals not much is done in the way of true innovation.

Markets don’t magically move in the right direction they need strong guidance and more importantly the government should be running the research and the projects. This book really gets into the importance of this, not just trying to nudge the market towards a goal by subsidizing stuff and watching the show.

The government has to have a strong long term view of the goals to solve the problems in larger society , like climate change , inequality , political stability and so on. This book explains the importance of an active government and society in fixing it’s problem. And in the long run also fixing capitalism.

Book review – Capital & Ideology

It’s done , read all 1114 pages. Which sounds harder than it is. Piketty, in writing Capital & Ideology has made a very readable , clear and very well laid out book. It doesn’t get complicated or hard to grasp. It very clearly lays out the history of capital and the inequality that comes with it, with the political landscape as the binding factor.

It shows that all inequality boils down to political choices. The book doesn’t give any one way solutions but rather a frame for further discussions and thinking. On how to make the world a more balanced place.

It takes the wind out of the individualist views and market based thinking as a means to end all problems. I am not giving a short summary on the book bur encourage everyone to read it. Take your time , it’s not complicated but you will need time to process and think about the subjects.

This book should be standard in any economics , history or sociology class. Lately a few very important books have been released on the problems surrounding the economy inequality and the environmental issues of our time. This book puts a lot of that in a historical context.

An absolute must read, food for thought and thinking.

Book review – That will never work

The early days of Netflix, told in this autobiography about and written bu Marc Randolph. It captures the ideas, difficulties, and the vision of a team of talented people focussing on making an idea work. One that was never done before. But ultimately resulted in the succes that is Netflix.

For me it was an affirmation on how far you can get when working together. Off course talent is a necessity , lot’s of endurance and commitment. But it all comes back on teamwork. And a bit of luck at the right time. In a day and age where individual succes is mostly contributed on that individual and the aura created on the exceptional talent and grit one had too achieve their goals and succes this book reaffirmed my belief that no one can do it alone. However talented or how much work one puts in. At some point you need help and lots of it.

Chase your dreams, but get help. Besides this personal take out of the book it is just fun too read, for everyone into autobiography’s and personal stories and not just people into economics or on the hunt for the next ‘how-to-on-startups’.

You will get some insight on the how to part, it is not a guide far from it. It teaches creativity works and be an open person.

An absolute joy to read and it’s really good in you are reading something more complex , for the change of pace or just in between the other daily tasks. Have fun !

Book review – Creative Quest

Another book review. Since the whole Corona crisis thing I have been focussing more on reading. Which has been paying out big time. My reading skills are getting better which after my brain damage wasn’t a guarantee that It would become better again.

I still get tired easily when reading but reading now goes faster and I remember somewhat more. It’s also something I can easily cut into small segments.

So yeah, been reading more. And reading some cool stuff as well. This review is on a book written by Questlove which deals with creativity and how you can set your mind in a way your creativity flows. And how to deal with distractions , and make it more of a framework. 

Every chapter deals with a topic which creative people are faced with, building your art, managing tasks surrounding making art, getting your art out there and sell it. Networking , staying in touch with people. And so on. 

I have music as a hobby and I know this won’t turn into a career anytime some. But everything in the book is applicable to the creative side of other professions whether it be as a software developer, product manager , journalist. Most professions have a creative side to them. And need a mindset and framework to fit that creative process.  It’s making sure all the conditions are set for being at your best creative wise. 

So I highly recommend this book for basically everyone that feels the need to be creative as a hobby or in parts of their job. 

Book review – Good economics for hard times

This is one of those books I am not going to indulge in giving away some parts or examples of the books greatness. So no subjects , conclusions of problems discussed in the book. Not doing it. Which makes this a bit hard. Here I go.

What I am saying is anyone with just a slight interest in the reasons for the current state of the world should absolutely read this book. Especially if you have some affinity with economics. But the good news is, it’s not about economics. It’s about assumptions , which we all know are…. , anyway these assumptions have been drafted into policy. And these policies have inflicted permanent damage and made the problems they were designed too solve much worse.

The book touches on most of the main problems of our time , and all is explained in a clear and very understandable way. Without cutting corners in it’s due diligence.

It’s pretty remarkable how long some of these assumptions on social structures, money, taxes , income , human values have come back over a long period of time. While most of these assumptions were proven to be wrong or have changed over time. Nevertheless most measures to counter the problems have been intensified because there is nog change in our assumptions. Which made the problems even worse , and a downward spiral. Nobody thought about checking if what we were doing was in fact pointless.

Maybe I am being a bit cryptic in my review of this book. But hopefully you get some direction on what the book is about.

And forget what I said about it being interesting for people which want to know about why we are in a world we are in. This book should be mandatory for everyone. It should be mandatory in all schools , universities what have you.

It teaches a very valuable lesson , a problem can never be solved with just one field of expertise, not even when it’s the dominant field. It’s very much a necessity to counter our current problems with multidisciplinair teams , creativity and looking at the problem from different perspectives.

We can only solve our problems together, no-one can do it alone.

Book review – More money than god

I read quite a bit again, which helps my brain a lot. And I have always found it relaxing. I mostly read biography’s , history and finance books. And the odd novel. And some tech books , which I won’t bore you with. I recently finished reading more money than god , by Sebastian Mallaby , a book combining history and finance in one go. Two of my favorite subjects. Plus it tells the stories of all the people involved , 3 boxes ticked.

It’s not a dry book with just names dates and numbers, it’s written with stories anecdotes and the numbers just fit in naturally. 

It’s about the history and evolving world of hedgefunds. For those who don’t know hedgefunds are private investment funds which in the classical term make bets on markets, and make use of diverse array of instruments in order to gain a edge in the market of choice. In the classical sense a hedge funds was always hedged against the risk they take. Neutral in a way, as far as their models go anyway. But that changed over time , and most just looked for edges in markets.

This book starts out with the first hedgefunds and goes until recent times just after the credit crunch in 2007/2008. What’s interesting it not just covered the most famous hedge funds and their bets like Soros versus the pound. But also lesser known stuff like the takeover of an Indonesian bank by a hedge fund.

Without giving away alle the stories the book tells the tales and sets out to give some insight in why hedgefunds are good for markets instead of the more common view that all hedgefunds are evil. It makes a good point. It’s also very dense and took me a while before finishing it. It’s a good for anyone interested in finance or the world of finance in general, the more numbers inclined among us will also be catered too and even the casual reader with more of a history interest will be having fun while reading it. 

It’s one of the best books on the history of hedgefunds in general and has a lot of interesting tales to tell. Make sure to put it on your reading list. 

Book – Weapons of Math destruction

In every way we live our lives today we are targeted by algorithms, and we are mostly totally oblivious of the consequences. Which is well very dangerous. In the book weapons of Math destruction , mathematician Cathy O’Neil explores the world of modeling , algorithms and their effects on us humans.

The algorithms are programmed by humans and therefore contain much of their biasses , ideas and expectations. The algorithms when they scale up , and most do, generate hugh feedback loops which amount to self fulfilling prophecies. This goes from education, finance , policing our streets and disturbing our democracy.

In a very clear way Cathy O’Neil explains the different effects of these models and their feedback loops, fueled by entire industries who ‘help’ beat the models in turn reinforcing their outcomes. The worst part ? Their is no appeal , no legislation , no regulation and no transparency. Scary ? Yes? Simply a must read for anyone.

Northern Monkeys by William Routledge

William Routledge has done an excellent job with his book Northern Monkeys. If your into music, fashion and the evolution of youth culture this is your book.

It’s about the different styles in music , fashion and trends that swept across Great Britain from the 60’s right up to the 90’s. And the underlining cement is the Football terrace. But it’s not a hooligan memoir. So everybody who’s expecting a season by season tail of violence better leave this book alone.

It’s way better than that. The story’s will ring a familiar bell with everyone who has lived in those days and discovering new music , cloths or went to their first rave or concert. Remember this was the pre internet era, when you someone had new music from let’s say New York or Belgium even , you couldn’t look the artist or label up and place an order in a web shop. If you were lucky, you got the phone number or location of the record store and you could travel there. If it was in a city nearby that is.

Or if you saw some new brand polo or jacket you had figure out where they got it. And most didn’t tell you when asked.

This discovery, search and excitement of the adventures surrounding all these encounters told by various people are a lot of fun to read. I have had the book for a while now but once I started I couldn’t put it done.

This is truly one of the best books on British youth cultures I have read so far. Hats off to William for making this book happen.

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The Secret History of the Mossad

Since finishing this book I have been thinking that spy movies and novels are too constraint. Gordon Thomas wrote this very voluminous book on the Mossad , for those who don’t know. The Israeli secret service.

The book details the history from the beginning of the state Israel until the day it was published, with all the highs and lows.

He has done so by talking to al lot of people involved , ex spies, Mossad directors and people who have become involved somehow. Bankers, publishers.

It reads like a spy novel. With a lot of typo’s , which can be annoying. Some stories are a bit far fetched I think. But overall you will get a good sense of how the world of espionage works. And how different country’s approach the gathering of information.

The book is a long read but well worth your time.

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