What I’ve been reading

I've started reading books in the middle, rather than at the beginning. When you have a lot of books it's a quicker way to get to interesting material. Daniel Willingham, Why Don't Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom. If you enjoy learning, you're not a typical student. Willingham surveys child psychology and teaching literature to come up with seven arguments. Along the way he demolishes the visual-auditory-kinesthetic theory of learning. I never really understood how kinesthetic learners were supposed to grasp philosophy anyway. Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us). This has been covered by other people, but it's still good. Vanderbilt uses traffic as a launching point for a host of interesting discussions, like coordination problems caused by real-time traffic software and how to make people pay more attention to the road. Recommended reading for Southern California drivers. Tyler Cowen, Create Your Own Economy: The Path to Prosperity in a Disordered World. Finally, the library delivered a copy. Cowen defends autism and explains that the autistic cognitive style is prized by our society; he points to nobelist Vernon Smith, for example, who has come forward as a self-diagnosed Asperger's child. Like David Gordon I wonder if Cowen is painting too wide of a brushstroke. Cowen also jumps from argument to argument, rarely spending too much time on any one topic, which may be a blogging tendency but which I don't like too much in a book. All in all I thought it was very good. Steven Skiena, Calculated Bets. Skiena is a computer science geek who has had a lifelong fascination with jai-alai; in this book he shares details of his quest to make money betting on jai-alai. In short, yes you can make money, but you can't make very much, as only about $15,000 gets wagered on any game and if you bet too much you start changing the odds. Unfortunately his strategy involved making bets on specific trifecta combinations, which means that although horse racing is also a pari-mutuel game, the techniques don't cross over. Rolf Potts, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. I was fairly disappointed by this book. Although I don't know what a travel book should say besides, "Start traveling." Benoit Mandelbrot, The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence. Mandelbrot is a Nobel prize winner who thinks that modern portfolio theory is not a good model to explain market movements. Check and check. The first half outlines the history of modern portfolio theory and the problems with the model, and the second half explores his neat work with fractals and market price movements.

Liked what you read? I am available for hire.

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