Tag Archives: npr

The Economics of Non-Financial Things

The lastest NPR Planet Money podcast is a great example of why I listen to Planet Money and Marketplace.

I’m not big in to economics, at least not in the traditional sense of the financial world and money and all that stuff, but the economic principles can apply to all sorts of other parts of our lives. The latest podcast is about South Carolina Governer Mark Sanford and is on the Economics of Cheating and Love. I think it’s facinating to look at other non-financial aspects of our lives in economic terms.

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Radiolab on Choice

Free will and determinism are topics I’ve been interested in for a while, I’ve talked about it plenty with certain friend, and probably even blogged about it before. My studies in school, and most of the conversations with friends have focused on the philosophical and psychological ideas of freedom and free will, but there are also scientific conversations we can have about choice — which materialists might say are the basis underlying any philosophical or psychological thoughts on choice.

I never realized the effects of postmodernity and the vast amount of choices we have until a few years ago. I guess I’d never experienced a vast lack of choices so I didn’t think much about it. One day I went to a cafe with an Italian friend of mine. We walked in and lined up next to the cash register were about 10 bottled drinks to choose from, behind the barista on the wall was a menu with about 40 hot and cold drinks. This friend commented on the choices one has to make at a cafe in the US, and how terrible it is. In Italy she told me, the choice would be much easier because the options would be far less, espresso or a cappuccino.

That brings me to Radiolab. Radiolab is a one hour long public radio show about science, if you’re not familiar with it, it might sound boring, but it’s a really entertaining show. I look forward to it every week and always learn a lot from it. This week’s show is all about choice. I recommend you give it a listen if you have some time, it’s interesting, I’m sure you’ll learn something, and it might even help you better understand why you make certain choices.

Random bits on literature

I’m almost done reading The Elementary Particles. I started off not liking it, but it’s grown on me a bit. I’ll try to say something more about here after I finish reading. I also started reading Everyday Drinking by Sir Kingsley Amis. The book is essays on drinking and various types of alcohol, I think collected from a magazine column, but I’m not sure. It makes for good bed time reading because the essays are fairly short.

Yesterday I listened to parts II and III of the KCRW podcast Bookworm‘s An American Bookworm in Paris. The host recently went to Paris and recorded interviews with Parisian writers. On part II he talked with Camille de Toledo author of Coming of Age at the End of History, a look at growing up in our post-modern culture.

On part III he spoke with Emmanuel Carrère, a french author who wrote a book called The Mustache. A couple months back I watched a French movie called La Moustache which was based on this book. I hated the movie, it was poorly made in my opinion, but after hearing the author I now want to read the book.

The New Yorker Book Bench blog talked about Literary Halloween costumes. They set up a flickr group for people to upload pictures of their literary costumes. I’ll post pictures of mine next week. I’m not going to mention yet who I’m dressing up as, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Russia! Magazine posted a guide to translations of classic Russian Lit. Sadly they only list six authors and one book by each. Anyone know of any good guides to English translations of popular foreign novels?

Deb Olin Unferth, a short story writer who just published her first novel, was asked by The Week about her favorite books. She included Trout Fish in America by Richard Brautigan (a favorite of mine) on her list, and had this to say about it: “A classic. Better than On the Road. Better than whatever’s better than On the Road.”

Someone recently asked John McCain and Barack Obama to list their favorite books, I’ve seen the lists all over the web. According to NPR, both candidates listed Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’ve seen it listed elsewhere that McCain also listed All Quiet on the Western Front. What I haven’t seen and would like to, is a report asked McCain to reconcile the anti-war themes of both novels to his foreign policy views. As well as explain his views on the socialist and fascist concepts in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Personally I don’t think they would reconcile very well with his views.