Wednesday, January 28th, 2004
I went to Coliseum Books today in search of Don Quixote. Coliseum is sold out of Don Quixote but should have a new shipment delivered tomorrow morning. I took the opportunity to buy Doug Henwood's After the New Economy instead.
Thursday, January 29th, 2004
So here is the plan for the next few weeks, reading- and woodworkingwise: On the train to and from work, I am going to be reading After the New Economy by Doug Henwood until I finish it, then Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, which I bought today for Ellen -- I believe she will be finished with it by the time I want it. Come home in the evening, play with Sylvia, have dinner, recreate, put Sylvia to bed. Then I will go downstairs and work on a dust collection harness for my lathe -- or when that is finished, on Ellen's bookcase or turning projects. Then come back up and read Don Quixote for an hour or so before bed. This makes it difficult to figure when I will post my reactions to DQ but I will try and make some room for that as well.
Friday, January 30th, 2004
Reading After the New Economy, my first reaction is that it's far less dry and uninteresting than I found Wall Street (counter to expectations) to be. I reckon this is probably indicative of a change in my abilities to comprehend rather than in Henwood's writing style, so I should probably go back to Wall Street sometime.
Of course, another distinction between the two books is that After the New Economy has more direct personal relevance to my situation.
Update: I seem to have taken to singing, in a Jim Morrison whine/moan, "After the new econ'my, turn out the lights..." -- Alas! When phrases get stuck in my head they can hang around for weeks, sucking up resources which could otherwise be better used...
Monday, February second, 2004
After the New Economy: I'm having a little trouble with chapter 3, "Income", trouble of the same variety that I recall having had while reading Wall Street -- the statistics fly fast and heavy, and at the end of a paragraph I can't really tell how much of that paragraph remains in my mind. This chapter seems to be concerned primarily with documenting the disadvantages faced by women and non-whites in finding proper recompense for their labors -- which does not seem to me totally germane to the rest of the book. The statistical information is good and useful, and I think much of it is not available elsewhere; but it seems like a detour. The piece of it that does relate to the topic of the book, is approximately that incomes did not increase during the 90's enough to make life easier for employees -- but this point is surrounded by so much other stuff that I am not sure just where he made the point, or what the point, precisely stated, is, or which statistics back it up.
Wednesday, February 4th, 2004
After the New Economy: I'm a bit bewildered by Henwood's assertion on p. 115 that Cox and Alm do not use relative measures in their study of income mobility. How can a ranking by quintiles be anything besides relative? -- I just don't see how such a ranking can have any absolute sense.
After the New Economy: I've gotten to the chapter on Globalization -- the information in this chapter is much more what I was expecting and hoping for from the book. He is not taking a position strongly in favor of or opposed to globalization, but instead is examining closely what the word actually means (or is used to mean) and how it ties in with historical capitalism, and how it plays out in the current economic scene. Plenty of stuff there to get me thinking!
Friday, February 6th, 2004
An idea I'm slowly working on vis-a-vis After the New Economy is along these lines: The arguments Henwood makes in favor of globalization seem quite similar to those made by conservative commentators at Crooked Timber, Semi-daily Journal, and Calpundit -- the three sites where I most consistently encounter conservative pro-globalization commentators. (This is a generalization and I need to go back and figure out what arguments I am talking about, and confirm that they are really employed by the commentators in question.) Why is it that they seem so much more trustworthy to me in this book? Part of it is obviously a question of authority -- Doug Henwood has more of it on this question than people I know only from the Blogosphere -- but the idea I'm working on is that when conservatives put forward rational arguments in favor of globalization, it has the sound to my ears of a siren's song.
When Henwood praises globalization, he is simultaneously pointing up the many failings of our modern economy and presenting our current situation as a stage in evolution. My fear with conservatives is that the end point of their argument is "Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" -- that change and progress toward equality are to be viewed with suspicion. This idea needs more development, it does not really hold water as presented here.
Monday, February 9th, 2004
After the New Economy: This morning I started reading the chapter on Finance, which is so far equally engaging and thought-provoking, as the previous chapter. I am finding the second half of this book far stronger than the first half.
I finished reading After the New Economy tonight -- I am glad to have read it and hope some salient points about finance (in particular) stay with me. I will give it to a friend tomorrow. And yes, I'm still reading Don Quixote, and enjoying it; I have just begun the fourth part, in which (I am guessing) the priest and the barber will return Señor Quexana to his home village and attempt to cure his mania.
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