Monthly Archives: May 2011

Orotund oracularity

Oracle NightOracle Night by Paul Auster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lent to me by my daughter, and like her, I admired the writing and story-within-story interconnectedness, but was left with a nagging wonder – what was really the point? Siri Hustvedt, Paul Auster’s wife, has written What she loved, and that is really a better book for this kind of intertwined, dramatic New York story, where violence and mystery happens in a chamber play of mysterious and sometimes amoral characters. But by all means, a good read.

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Optimistic rationality – relief from the doomsayers

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity EvolvesThe Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Matt Ridley, science writer and commentator, delivers a blistering attack on the pessimists of the world, who extrapolate their way to doom and gloom, whether it be a new Ice Age, overpopulation, markets rather than hierarchies, energy crises, food scares and epidemics. He shows, with a wealth of examples (not always well referenced – especially the statistics) that the human race, due to its unique in its ability to trade goods, services and ideas with people outside the family or other small group, will succeed in overcoming challenges – including global warming.

For someone who grew up under the threat of nuclear annihilation (I remember thinking, as an 18-year old, that there would be little point in getting an education because we were all going to die in an atomic blast anyway) this is another of those books (Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, Dan Dennett’s Consciousness Explained and David S. Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations being others) that convincingly reinforces by trust in science, innovation and knowledge’s worth and ability to create the future – a future we have not chance of extrapolating ourselves into.

Enjoyable – a simple premise, well argued and organized. Recommended.

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