More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics
Author: Steven E Landsburg
Economics is no longer the "dismal science" dreaded by college freshmen. In recent years, a band of economists has broken away from the charts and graphs of college textbooks, and begun to explain ordinary behavior in plain and often entertaining English. Steve Landsburg was one of the first of the new breed, in his book The Armchair Economist and long-running "Everyday Economics" column in Slate magazine. Now he is back, and more provocative than ever.
In More Sex is Safer Sex, Landsburg shows how the rational behavior of each one of us -- when combined together -- produces the often bizarre, seemingly irrational behavior of crowds. We all stand up at the ballpark, so none of us can see. We avoid casual sex, from fear of disease, and we thereby make sex more dangerous. Things really get interesting when Landsburg suggests ways to change the rules, and game the system. Why not charge juries if a convicted felon is exonerated? Why not have each member of Congress represent a national subset of voters, chosen alphabetically? Why not solve the ""overpopulation"" problem by having more children, who will help think of ways to improve our use of resources?
More Sex is Safer Sex will make you laugh and argue -- and it will make you think about the world around you in new and unforgettable ways.
Economics books full of "uncommon sense" are more common after the success of Freakonomics, but this rambling survey of hot-button and quotidian issues viewed from a libertarian economic perspective doesn't measure up. Landsburg (The Armchair Economist) is sometimes pleasantly counterintuitive, but too often simply contentious. In using cost/benefit calculations to argue in favor of racial profiling or why we shouldn't care about the looting of Baghdad's museums, he strains to celebrate "all that is counter, original, spare and strange." While positing multiple solutions to interesting problems, he forces logical readers to confront uncomfortable positions--as in the title essay, urging chaste citizens to sleep around, thereby diluting the pool of potential sex partners with AIDS. But the chapters typically conclude without resolution--at one point, the author shrugs: "It's not easy to sort out causes from effects." One suspects that a rival economist could swiftly debunk many of Landsburg's arguments--for instance, his chapter praising misers (who produce but don't consume) depends on the assumption that all resources are fixed and finite. By the time he makes the head-scratching case that "it's always an occasion for joy when other people have more children," the reader may be in the mood for some plain old common sense. (Apr.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
New interesting book: The Economics of Imperfect Information or Leviathans
Machiavelli's the Prince: Bold-Faced Principles on Tactics, Power, and Politics
Author: Niccolo Machiavelli
Need to seize a country? Have enemies you must destroy? In this handbook for despots and tyrants, the Renaissance statesman Machiavelli sets forth how to accomplish this and more, while avoiding the awkwardness of becoming generally hated and despised.
"Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge."
For nearly 500 years, Machiavelli's observations on Realpolitik have shocked and appalled the timid and romantic, and for many his name was equivalent to the devil's own. Yet, The Prince was the first attempt to write of the world of politics as it is, rather than sanctimoniously of how it should be, and thus The Prince remains as honest and relevant today as when Machiavelli first put quill to parchment, and warned the junior statesman to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.
Table of Contents:
|Machiavelli's Principal Works|
|Letter to the Magnificent Lorenzo de Medici||1|
|I||How many kinds of principality there are and the ways in which they are acquired||5|
|IV||Why the kingdom of Darius conquered by Alexander did not rebel against his successors after his death||13|
|V||How cities or principalities which lived under their own laws should be administered after being conquered||16|
|VI||New principalities acquired by one's own arms and prowess||17|
|VII||New principalities acquired with the help of fortune and foreign arms||20|
|VIII||Those who come to power by crime||27|
|IX||The constitutional principality||31|
|X||How the strength of every principality should be measured||34|
|XII||Military organization and mercenary troops||39|
|XIII||Auxiliary, composite, and native troops||43|
|XIV||How a prince should organize his militia||47|
|XV||The things for which men, and especially princes, are praised or blamed||49|
|XVI||Generosity and parsimony||51|
|XVII||Cruelty and compassion; and whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse||53|
|XVIII||How princes should honour their word||56|
|XIX||The need to avoid contempt and hatred||58|
|XX||Whether fortresses and many of the other present-day expedients to which princes have recourse are useful or not||67|
|XXI||How a prince must act to win honour||71|
|XXII||A prince's personal staff||75|
|XXIII||How flatterers must be shunned||76|
|XXIV||Why the Italian princes have lost their states||78|
|XXV||How far human affairs are governed by fortune, and how fortune can be opposed||79|
|XXVI||Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians||82|
|Glossary of Proper Names||86|