Monday, July 26, 2010
Most commentators look at the issue of immigration from the viewpoint of immediate politics. In doing so, they focus on only a piece of the issue and lose touch with the larger picture. Now Thomas Sowell offers a sweeping historical and global look at a large number of migrations over a long period of time. Migrations and Cultures shows the persistence of cultural traits, in particular racial and ethnic groups, and the role these groups’ relocations play in redistributing skills, knowledge, and other forms of “human capital.” answers the question: What are the effects of disseminating the patterns of the particular set of skills, attitudes, and lifestyles each ethnic group has carried forth—both for the immigrants and for the host countries, in social as well as economic terms?
Thomas Sowell has taught economics at a number of colleges and universities, including Cornell, University of California Los Angeles, and Amherst. He has published both scholarly and popular articles and books on economics, and is currently a scholar in residence at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Gibbon’s masterpiece, which narrates the history of the Roman Empire from the second century a.d. to its collapse in the west in the fifth century and in the east in the fifteenth century, is widely considered the greatest work of history ever written. This first volume covers the last two hundred years of the Roman Empire leading up to its collapse.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
In the 1970s, the world economy suffered heavily from brutal spikes in the oil price.
One of the culprits was OPEC, which was formed on the model of the 'Texas Railroad Commission'.
The rise in the oil price provoked an enormous wealth transfer from the oil consuming to the oil producing countries.
Moreover, the oil consuming countries were confronted with the choice between higher taxes or printing money and chose for the latter. But in the US, the bill of the Vietnam War was still not paid. It all ended in stagflation, a mighty drop of the dollar (`my swissies') and a real estate bust.
Adam Smith gives us also a brilliant course on the origin of banks and money.
This book reads like a thriller and is a must read for all those interested in the economy of the 1970s in the West.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
While the New England colonies have often been regarded as the centerpiece of early American literature, the first North American settlements had been founded elsewhere many years earlier. Many towns are older than Boston, such as Saint Augustine, Jamestown, Santa Fe, Albany, and New York. Furthermore, English was not the only language in which early North American texts were written. The eventual emergence of the English language was hardly inevitable. The large initial immigration to Boston in the 1630s, the high articulation of Puritan cultural ideals, and the early establishment of a college and a printing press in Cambridge all gave New England a substantial edge. However, political events eventually would make English the lingua franca for the colonies at large as well as the literary medium of choice. One such event is the conquering of New Amsterdam by the English in 1664, which was renamed New York. The first item printed in Pennsylvania was in German although it issued from the press established by an immigrant Englishman, and was the largest book printed in any of the colonies before the American Revolution.
The printing press was active in many areas, from Cambridge and Boston to New York, Philadelphia, and Annapolis. From 1696 to 1700, only about 250 separate items were issued in all these places combined. This is a small number compared to the output of the printers in London at the time. However, printing was established in the American colonies before it was allowed in most of England. In England restrictive laws had long confined printing to four locations: London, York, Oxford, and Cambridge. Because of this, the colonies ventured into the modern world earlier than their provincial English counterparts.
Legion is a 1983 horror novel by William Peter Blatty, a sequel to The Exorcist. It was made into the movie The Exorcist III in 1990.
Like The Exorcist, it involves demonic possession. The name is derived from The Bible, particularly The Gospel of Luke, which describes Jesus traveling in the land of Gadarenes where he encounters a man possessed by Demons:
“ Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many devils had entered him. (Luke 8:30) ”
Or the more common quote on the incident, sometimes called the Gerasene Demoniac, from The Gospel of Mark:
“ And he asked him, "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many." (Mark 5:9)
The story opens with the discovery of a twelve-year-old boy who has been murdered and crucified on a pair of rowing oars. Kinderman already sees that the boy is mutilated in a way identical to the victims of a serial killer known as the Gemini Killer, who was apparently shot to death by police twelve-years previously while climbing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. A priest is later murdered in a confessional, once again bearing the mutilations distinctive of the apparently deceased killer. The fingerprints at the two crime scenes differ, however. Further victims soon follow, including one of Kinderman's friends, another priest, who is slain in a hospital, his body drained of blood before being decapitated. Yet again the Gemini Killer's mutilations are present.
In the end, the implication is that the Gemini Killer possessed the body of Damien Karras and spent many years trying to gain control of the body, during which time Karras was held in a mental hospital. He lacked any identification and was nicknamed Sunlight because he sat in the sun's rays as it passed through the window of his cell. Upon finally gaining control of Karras' body, the Gemini occasionally left it to possess the bodies of the patients suffering from senile dementia, and as they were in an open ward with access to the outside world, he could use them to go forth and commit murders. This is why the fingerprints of several senility patients were found at the crime scenes; their bodies carried out the murders but the Gemini Killer was in control of them.
An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.
After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.
After consultation with the Jesuit president of Georgetown, the bishop appoints the experienced Merrin, recently returned to the States, to perform the exorcism and allows the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests, both physically and spiritually. After the death of Merrin, the task ultimately restores Karras' faith, leading him to give his own life to save Regan's.
In this superb audiobook, Tom Brokaw goes out into America to tell - through the stories of individual men and women - the story of a generation, American's citizen heroes and heroines who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to bud modern America.
Tom Brokaw, a native of South Dakota, graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in political science. He began his journalism career in Omaha and Atlanta before joining NBC News in 1966. Brokaw was the White House correspondent for NBC News during Watergate, and from 1976 to 1981 he anchored Today on NBC. He's been the sole anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw since 1983. Brokaw has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including two DuPonts, a Peabody Award, and several Emmys. He lives in New York and Montana.
Benchley's novel, while better known as the source material for Steven Spielberg's classic movie, has earned its own stripes as a small gem of suspense fiction. With another summer fast approaching, audio listeners may be interested in revisiting the town of Amity, Long Island, and getting back in the water. Erik Steele, a theater and film actor, chomps into Benchley's raw prose with appetite, enjoying every bite of gore and social observation. Making ample use of well-placed pauses and silences, Steele amplifies not only the suspense, but Benchley's surprisingly well-honed characterizations. The experience, of course, is markedly different from Spielberg's film, offering shocks less visceral and more contemplative.