Tuesday, January 3, 2012

To Read For 2012

The new year is upon us and has decided to immediately bludgeon us with a presidential election and a massive financial crisis in Europe.  Here's my to read recommendations to help you make any sense of it:

  • Zero Hedge: And the first pitch of the new year is a knuckler!  In order to gain useful info from this site, you will have to learn a few things about the financial markets and have a good eye for separating what is complete hysteria from what is a logical threat.  That latter part is tricky, mostly because you can't assume the most dire predictions are necessarily the most outlandish ones.  
  • Marginal Revolution: Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason U., is a pretty big name nowadays, routinely being published in places like the NYT and Wall St. Journal.  A very even handed fellow, he's also very academic and can be challenging for that reason, but that doesn't make him wrong.  Probably the most important thing I've picked up from him is the notion that starting a book is not an inviolable contract that you will then finish said book.  If it sucks, put it down.  
  • The Volokh Conspiracy: Don't get fooled by the name, these are some top notch legal experts in the country, including some former clerks and current advocates for the Supreme Court, along with some guest posts by academics and sitting judges.  Very human group, by which I mean you'll often find some pretty amusing posts, but very bright jurists with a libertarian bent.   Will be a valuable source when ObamaCare goes before SCOTUS.  
  • Instapundit: I check this about a dozen times a day.  Glenn Reynolds, a law professor, posts little blurbs on whatever happens to interest him on the Internet.  Lots of good finds on politics, law, transhumanism, sex, the bizarre, what have you. 
  • Via Meadia: A lot of good stuff on what's going on in and outside of the United States.  
As for books, now is the time to read at least one of these if you haven't already:

  • The Federalist Papers by Publius: The words "Supreme Court" or "Un/Constitutional" should not escape your lips/finger tips if you have not read this book first. 
  • The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich von Hayek:  Collective efforts are not particularly easy, especially when you have elected officials held accountable by different electorates.  The most common way of dealing with that deadlock is to just get rid of those pesky elections and representatives! 
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn:  Why the above shortcut is a bad thing.  Also, you'll never look at a bad day the same way again. 
  • Human Action by Ludwig von Mises:  This one is tough but worthwhile because Mises explains how economics works.  Not how it should work, but how it will work.  Most people do not understand how economics works.   
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand:  I know, I know.  I have my problems with it, too. Read it anyway.  The few fundamental truths she hammers away at are so important that the flaws can be overlooked. It's possible I want people to read this so they stop making criminally stupid criticisms about the book.   Like any book, read it before you praise or criticize it.