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Book Bits: 23 January 2021

Summary:
● Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of RobotsJames SuzmanReview via The New YorkerIn “Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots” (Penguin Press), the South African anthropologist James Suzman, a specialist on the Khoisan peoples, disputes the economic definition of “work.” One culture’s work is another’s leisure; one people’s needs are, to another people, mere wants. Suzman proposes, instead, to define “work” as “purposefully expending energy or effort on a task to achieve a goal or end,” a definition so committed to its universality as to risk becoming meaningless. He insists that the key word here is “purposeful”: to act purposefully is to understand cause and effect. Among the traits that distinguish Homo sapiens from other primates, Suzman

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Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots
James Suzman
Review via The New Yorker
In “Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots” (Penguin Press), the South African anthropologist James Suzman, a specialist on the Khoisan peoples, disputes the economic definition of “work.” One culture’s work is another’s leisure; one people’s needs are, to another people, mere wants. Suzman proposes, instead, to define “work” as “purposefully expending energy or effort on a task to achieve a goal or end,” a definition so committed to its universality as to risk becoming meaningless. He insists that the key word here is “purposeful”: to act purposefully is to understand cause and effect. Among the traits that distinguish Homo sapiens from other primates, Suzman argues, is this capacity, which—because of humans’ harnessing of, for instance, fire—makes possible a different relationship to provisioning.
Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World
Simon Winchester
Summary via publisher (HarperCollins)
Land—whether meadow or mountainside, desert or peat bog, parkland or pasture, suburb or city—is central to our existence. It quite literally underlies and underpins everything. Employing the keen intellect, insatiable curiosity, and narrative verve that are the foundations of his previous bestselling works, Simon Winchester examines what we human beings are doing—and have done—with the billions of acres that together make up the solid surface of our planet. Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World examines in depth how we acquire land, how we steward it, how and why we fight over it, and finally, how we can, and on occasion do, come to share it. Ultimately, Winchester confronts the essential question: who actually owns the world’s land—and why does it matter?
Migration Beyond Capitalism
Hannah Cross
Summary via publisher (Polity)
Harshly exploited migrant labour plays a fundamental role in the political economy of contemporary capitalism. The abstract and utopian theorising of many liberals and leftists on the migration question often ignores or downplays patterns of displacement and brutal class dynamics, which divide and weaken working people while empowering the ruling class. In this important new book, Hannah Cross provides a sober analysis of the class antagonisms of migration in the context of the nation, social democracy, and the racialized ordering of the world.
Build Wealth With Common Stocks: Market-Beating Strategies for the Individual Investor
David J Waldron
Summary via Amazon
In Build Wealth With Common Stocks, David J. Waldron shares actionable ideas to construct a potentially market-beating portfolio of the common shares of enduring companies to fund life’s significant milestones. Waldron offers inspiring wisdom and memorable anecdotes to keep the reader moving forward during the endless roller coaster rides of market cycles.
Taming the Corporation: How to Regulate for Success
Robert Baldwin and Martin Cave
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Virtually all enterprises are regulated in a host of ways and regulation is crucial not merely to economic success but to protecting consumer, worker, environmental, and an array of other interests. Regulation, though, is often seen negatively: as a tiresome interference with entrepreneurial activity. This negative vision is unhelpful in addressing business and other needs for productive forms of regulation. Taming the Corporation offers an alternative, positive, vision of regulation.

Please note that the links to books above are affiliate links with Amazon.com and James Picerno (a.k.a. The Capital Spectator) earns money if you buy one of the titles listed. Also note that you will not pay extra for a book even though it generates revenue for The Capital Spectator. By purchasing books through this site, you provide support for The Capital Spectator’s free content. Thank you!

James Picerno
James Picerno is a financial journalist who has been writing about finance and investment theory for more than twenty years. He writes for trade magazines read by financial professionals and financial advisers. Over the years, he’s written for the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Bloomberg Markets, Mutual Funds, Modern Maturity, Investment Advisor, Reuters, and his popular finance blog, The CapitalSpectator.

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