Recent Reads

“Recent” as in “I read these in early March.”

Tyler Cowen, The Complacent Class. This is a depressing volume from a self-described optimist. It’s a useful exploration of trends in productivity given that it’s easy to focus on the sector that is most dynamic (information technology). Elsewhere, Cowen has discussed other sectors—government, schooling—where productivity is basically unchanging.

James KA Smith, You Are What You Love. This was very interesting. Smith discusses the ways in which we are shaped by liturgies, both sacred (rituals at church) and profane (rituals in the mall). It suffers sometimes from the way it discusses issues where economics has a lot to say, and I’m not clear on what counts as liturgy and what doesn’t as one could defend a claim that all action is liturgical. Dr. Smith will visit Samford to present the Hodges Lecture in April.

Michael R. Clarke, Time Management Made Stupidly Easy. A decent refresher for pros, a good intro for novices. If you’re pretty experienced in the time management space, there doesn’t seem to be a lot here that can’t be recovered by skimming back through Getting Things Done or a similar book.

Calestous Juma, Innovation and Its Enemies. The history of innovation is sometimes depressing because of the absurdity for arguments trotted out in defense of the status quo. Juma’s book is a delightful and engaging account that, I hope, will help policymakers make better choices about how they regulate innovation. I’m with Adam Thierer in that innovation should be permissionless, but given that it isn’t there are ways we can work to overcome the barriers keeping innovation from happening.

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