List of Tom Perrotta’s Novels (In Chronological Order)

  1. The Wishbones (1997): Amazon | Bookshop
  2. Election (1998): Amazon | Bookshop
  3. Joe College (2000): Amazon | Bookshop
  4. Little Children (2004): Amazon | Bookshop
  5. The Abstinence Teacher (2007): Amazon | Bookshop | Audiobook from Kobo
  6. The Leftovers (2011): Amazon | Bookshop | Audiobook from Kobo
  7. Mrs. Fletcher (2017): Amazon | Bookshop | Audiobook from Kobo

 
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Before Sunrise By Mikhail Zoshchenko (Novel Review)

BEFORE SUNRISE
By Mikhail Zoshchenko, translated by Gary Kern
Ardis, $40, January 1974, 978-0882330617
Amazon

Mikhail Zoshchenko’s Before Sunrise. This is a novel that is unique in both form and content. It combines elements of autobiography, memoirs, fiction, and meta-fiction. Zoshchenko’s protagonist speaks in the first person and in the present tense. He wanted to know why depression and anxiety chased him all his life, and in his mission to decipher the underlying causes, he finds himself studying scientists like Pavlov and Freud, and applying—with caution—their theories and recent discoveries to end the misery that shadowed over the first three decades of his time under the sun.

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The 4 Hour Workweek Mindset

Notes taken while reading THE 4-HOUR WORKWEEK. I do not endorse the content of the books I summarize. I share these notes for pure educational purposes.

The new rich are unique in their thinking and behavior. They consciously pursue a life full of options. The are able to do so because the design their lifestyles—and set their goals—based on certain values and life-philosophies they believe in.

Consuming and accumulating possessions isn’t the main goal of the 4-hour workweek lifestyle. But one should be able to get what he/she desires (At least on paper).

Purposeful pursuit of material wealth using clearly-defined goals, deadlines, and roadmaps.

Be the owner (neither the boss nor the employee).

More quantity (assets, options, etc..), but not at the expense of the quality of your life.

Make sure your work towards frequent cash inflows instead of fantasizing about about a remote big payday in the distant future.

Make the freedom multiplier work for you by carefully controlling your 4Ws: what you do, when, where, and with whom you do it.

Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.

The 4-Hour Workweek

Interest and energy are both cyclical and moody. Full retirement is the worst case scenario. Instead, aim for frequent and cyclical mini-retirement plans.

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The Bottom Billion By Paul Collier

THE BOTTOM BILLION: WHY THE POOREST COUNTRIES ARE FAILING AND WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT IT
By Paul Collier
Oxford University Press, 224 pp., $15, August 2008, 9780195373387

Amazon, Bookshop

Ask any ‘third worlder’—including me—and chances are, he/she will tell you how dirty and poor his/her country is, and how it is likely to remain that way in the foreseeable future. Why are some nations poor? Why these nations stay dirty and undeveloped despite our globalized reality? And why are they likely to stay poor, unless something is done? And, if we want to do something, what should we do about it? This post is about all of these questions—a summary and a review written while reading Paul Collier’s Book: The Bottom Billion.

Trapped

Paul Collier developed a notion he named the “conflict trap”. His aim is to show how some economic conditions prompt civil war, and how the resulting conflict often becomes a trap—one that is hard to escape.
Four different traps are behind the horrible situation people are living within the bottom billion:

  1. The Conflict Trap
  2. The Natural Resources Trap
  3. The Trap of Being Landlocked
  4. The Trap of Bad Governance in a Small Country

Globalization to the Rescue?

Even during the golden decade—between the end of the cold war and 9/11—these countries still suffered, and captured nothing of what the rest of the world has been going through. In fact, income during this same decade fell by 5%.

That’s why the later countries escape the traps, and begin to take the right track, the harder it is for them to catch up, because the global market is now much more tough for new participants than it was in the 1980s.

The Struggle for the Bottom Billion

The author isn’t trying to offer a one and only explanation for the failures of certain nations to catch up with the Global development train—of beginning to reduce poverty for the first time in history since the 1980s. He acknowledges the diversity of the situation within the bottom billion.

The left could learn that maybe some instruments they’d been avoiding to use—like military interventions—are sometimes effective, or even the only viable option to improve or change the situation.
And, the right can learn that “global growth” doesn’t always bring relief to the Bottom Billion.

The problem matters. And it matters even more to voters and decision makers in the developed world. Because, if they keep ignoring what’s happening within the Bottom Billion, soon enough, the ramifications will land themselves clear in the west—think mass immigration, terrorism, etc..

Paul Collier intended this book to be an enjoyable read through keeping “clear of footnotes and the rest of the usual grim apparatus of professional scholarship,” as he declared from the start.

Nor that this book is a chewing gum for the mind—if you have an attention for details, then all you have to do is to take a look at the book’s ending section and you will find what amuses your tastes and your erudite cravings.

Paul Collier

Paul Collier is a professor at Oxford. He had directed the World Bank’s research department. He’d also taught at Harvard.

Paul Collier’s previous books include Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, and Greed is Dead: Politics after Individualism.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you can support my work by buying me a book (one time donation) or by becoming a patron.

 
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Organizing Recorded Information

We have an innate need for organization. We need to organize our lives. We need to get out stuff together. We need to organize our rooms, and our kitchens.

School tries to arm us with such a capacity from an early age too. Write heading in a specific color. Write paragraphs in a different one. Leave a certain margin. Allocate a notebook for each subject, and never use a notebook for all of them (I have to admit that I used to do this).

On an individual level, we are different, and just as some of us are obsessed with order and long for strict organization, others despise such dependence on systems and see them as mere constructs that further complicate matters rather than simply them.

The reality is that by “just living,” we—our activities—are generating data on a minute-to-minute basis. That data needs to be processed, organized, and stored. We then can use that our archives/historical records to make inferences, or to help researchers better understand and solve the challenges of their fields by making the access to the information resources they need most easy and time-efficient.

Here comes the field of organizing recorded information. The International According to the Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)1, end-users of the information benefit from the organization process by being able to accomplish the following five tasks more efficiently:

  1. Find: look for entities that match tight and specific criteria
  2. Identify: verify that the entities sought is the same as the one found
  3. Select: ensuring of retaining only resources that match the user’s need
  4. Obtain: make the resource sought accessible
  5. Explore: make possible the discovery of new resources and entities

We should differentiate between the terms “recorded information” and “information resource.”

The first refers to any form of factual knowledge about something or someone.2 The second is an identifiable and describable unit of information; an instance of recorded information.3

Information resources often have some common attributes, such as title, creator, date, ISBN, etc..

Archivists and collection specialists use these attributes to help them organize these resources collectively, and according to a specific criteria.

These attributes are called metadata, which is just a fancy name for “data that provides information about other data.” 4

There are generally four steps we should follow if we want to organize recorded information:

  1. Identify every information resource available at our disposal
  2. Closely examine the contents of each resource
  3. Collectively organize these resources into separate collections
  4. Work out a list of every information resource prepared according to some standard guideline for citation

 
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