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Category Archives: Recommended Books

Books Analyzes How America’s Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality

Boston Review – This essay is excerpted with permission from Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves, Brookings Institution Press, 2017.

“In January 2015, Barack Obama suffered an acute political embarrassment. A proposal from the budget he’d sent to Congress was dead on arrival—but it was the president himself who killed it. The idea was sensible, simple, and progressive. Remove the tax benefits from 529 college saving plans, which disproportionately help affluent families, and use the money to help fund a broader, fairer system of tax credits. It was, in policy terms, a no-brainer. You can easily see how the professorial president would have proposed it. But he had underestimated the wrath of the American upper middle class. As the 2016 election helped us see, the real class divide is between the upper middle class and everyone else. As soon as the administration unveiled the plan, Democrats started to quietly mobilize against it. Representative Chris Van Hollen from Maryland (now a senator) called his colleague, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi happened to be traveling with Obama from India to Saudi Arabia on Air Force One. As they flew across the Arabian Sea, she persuaded the president to drop the reform. The next day, White House spokesman Eric Schultz declared that the 529 plan had become “a distraction” from the president’s ambitious plans to reform college financing. The episode was a brutal reminder that sensible policy is not always easy politics, particularly when almost every person writing about, analyzing, or commenting on a proposal is a beneficiary of the current system. Pelosi and Van Hollen both represent liberal, affluent, well-educated districts. Almost half of their constituents are in households with six-figure incomes. I should know: Van Hollen was my congressman at the time. My neighbors and I are the very people saving into our 529 plans. More than 90 percent of the tax advantage goes to families with incomes in the top quarter of the distribution…”

New Book Pays Tribute To The Library Card Catalog

I worked in college and special library technical services for quite a few years before I completed both college and my Master’s program. I was a cataloger, and my tools were dedicated OCLC terminals and hand typed catalog cards (the IBM Selectric was also indispensable in those days). I created my catalog cards, filed my… Continue Reading

Map shows US really has 11 separate ‘nations’ with entirely different cultures

Business Insider – “In his fourth book, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America, award-winning author Colin Woodard identifies 11 distinct cultures that have historically divided the US. “The country has been arguing about a lot of fundamental things lately including state roles and individual liberty,” Woodard, a Maine native who… Continue Reading

The Secret Life of Trees: The Astonishing Science of What Trees Feel and How They Communicate

Brain Pickings: “Trees dominate the world’s the oldest living organisms. Since the dawn of our species, they have been our silent companions, permeating our most enduring tales and never ceasing to inspire fantastical cosmogonies. Hermann Hesse called them “the most penetrating of preachers.” A forgotten seventeenth-century English gardener wrote of how they “speak to the… Continue Reading

Agility in US national security

McKinsey – Book Excerpt – March 2017  -“The shift continues from the manufacturing economy of the industrial age to the digital economy of the information age, US national-security organizations need to transform as well. American military forces have been, and continue to be, the most capable in the world, but the national-security infrastructure, refined and… Continue Reading

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The King Library and Archives in Atlanta is the largest repository of primary source materials on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American Civil Rights Movement in the world. The collection consists of the papers of Dr. King and those of the organization he co-founded, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as the… Continue Reading

Book Review – Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics

Jochnowitz, Leona Deborah and Ford, Julia A., Book Review – Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics (December 27, 2016). Available for download at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2890524 “The 71st and 72nd 2015 and 2016 annual meetings of the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in Washington, D.C. and New Orleans focused on themes of… Continue Reading

Book Review – The Politics of Gender Justice at the ICC: Legacies and Legitimacy

December 19, 2016 – Louise Chappell “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides the most advanced articulation ever of gender justice under international law. In designing this aspect of the Rome Statute, states were influenced by the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice, a dynamic international feminist advocacy network who used the creation of… Continue Reading

Hope in the Dark – Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

Free ebook – Hope in the Dark – Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities by Rebecca Solnit “With Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural,… Continue Reading

Insights from new book – How Achieving Emotional Agility Can Help You – at Work and in Life

“Just like physical agility, emotional agility is important to overall health, well-being and successful relationships at work. But in a fast-paced world fraught with so much stress and upheaval, how do you achieve it? Psychologist Susan David, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, offers insights in a new book titled Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change,… Continue Reading

The Hidden Wealth of Nations

The Hidden Wealth of Nations – Gabriel Zucman, Assistant professor, UC Berkeley. September 2015, University of Chicago Press. The book: Presentation slides (short, long) Introduction Table of contents Tables and figures included in the book Supplementary material: Technical appendix  Global offshore wealth: computation of the world’s offshore wealth since 2001 Switzerland: offshore wealth in Switzerland since 1914 Luxembourg:… Continue Reading

World’s Most Literate Nations

“The World’s Most Literate Nations (WMLN) ranks nations on—not their populace’s ability to read but rather—their populace’s literate behaviors and their supporting resources. The rankings are based on five categories standing as indicators of the literate health of nations: libraries, newspapers, education inputs and outputs, and computer availability. This multidimensional approach to literacy speaks to… Continue Reading