I wanted to see what kinda books everyone's into. I recently decided to go back to school since I wasn't happy with where I'd landed in the work place. I'm a history major now and I've really been enjoying it. Thought I'd share a few snips from some of my favorite books and also see what you readers out there are into lately. Preferably non-fiction but if you want to post up your fiction reading that's fine too.
Just to start I thought I'd throw out a couple paragraphs from the last chapter in Howard Zinn's book, "A People's History of the United States." This isn't something that I picked up recently but the more I learn and the more I study the more awesome this book gets everytime I leaf through it again.
The last chapter really brings everything Zinn is trying to communicate to the reader across nicely and just happens to hit home with me. If you've never read this book and you enjoy non-fiction, even if you're not a history buff, I guarantee this is one you want to pick up. Now obviously Zinn wrote this before Obama was ever president but I think the core message of what he is trying to say still rings true. Some of these paragraphs are back to back and some of this i'm skipping around in but if this sounds like your cup of tea, then pick it up asap.
"All those historians of this country centered on the Founding Fathers and the Presidents weigh oppressively on the capacity of the ordinary citizen to act. They suggest that in times of crisis we must look to someone to save us: in the Revolutionary crisis, the Founding Fathers; in the slavery crisis, Lincoln; in the Depression, Roosevelt; in the Vietnam-Watergate crisis, Carter. And that between occasional crises everything is all right, and it is sufficient for us to be restored to that normal state. They teach us that the supreme act of citizenship is to choose among saviors, by going into a voting booth every four years to choose between two white and well-off Anglo-Saxon males of inoffensive personality and orthodox opinions."
"The idea of saviors has been built into the entire culture, beyond politics. We have learned to look to stars, leaders, experts in every field, thus surrendering our own strength, demeaning our own ability, obliterating our own selves. But from time to time, Americans reject that idea and rebel."
"These rebellions, so far, have been contained. The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased."
"But most histories understate revolt, overemphasize statesmanship, and thus encourage impotency among citizens. When we look closely at resistance movements, or even at isolated forms of rebellion, we discover that class consciousness, or any other awareness of injustice, has multiple levels. It has many ways of expression, many ways of revealing itself--open, subtle, direct, distorted. In a system of intimidation and control, people do not show how much they know, how deeply they feel, until their practical sense informs them they can do so without being destroyed."
"Technology was running wild, and one of its effects, more subtle than radiation poisoning, was fearsome in its own way: there was a growing dependence on computers to replace human thought. An M.I.T pioneer in computer building, Joseph Weizenbaum, sounded the alarm against the perversion of his own field, in his book "Computer Power and Human Reason." People were attributing too much wisdom, he said, to science, whose knowledge is not certain. They were giving frightening power to machines, replacing human judgment. The deification of computers was a rejection of direct experience, a replacement of human sensitivity by mechanical devices. What Weizenbaum described has effects on the whole human race, not just one social group. People of all kinds, seeing this, might join to reassert the importance of the living being."
This is a Q & A in the intro to a book called "The Creature from Jekyll Island" by Edward Griffin. His book is about the Federal Reserve and its history and this little intro is somewhat amusing imo. I think it does a good job of explaining banking in a very simple way. The book itself is very convenient in that he placed a preview and a summary at the end of each chapter that you can read if you're strapped for time. That way you don't have to put in a giant time commitment to finish it if you want to skip all the details and the documentation. Apparently he got the following from a British Humor magazine, "Punch" published April 3, 1957.
Q. What are banks for?
A. To make money.
Q. For the customers?
A. For the banks.
Q. Why doesn't bank advertising mention this?
A. It would not be in good taste. But it is mentioned by implication in references to reserves of $249,000,000 or thereabouts. That is the money that they have made.
Q. Out of the customers?
A. I suppose so.
Q. They also mention Assets of $500,000,000 or thereabouts. Have they made that too?
A. Not exactly. That is the money they use to make money.
Q. I see. And they keep it in a safe somewhere?
A. Not at all. They lend it to customers.
Q. Then they haven't got it?
Q. Then how is it Assets?
A. They maintain that it would be if they got it back.
Q. But they must have some money in a safe somewhere?
A. Yes, usually $500,000,00 or thereabouts. This is called Liabilities.
Q. But if they've got it, how can they be liable for it?
A. Because it isn't theirs.
Q. Then why do they have it?
A. It has been lent to them by customers.
Q. You mean customers lend banks money?
A. In effect. They put money into their accounts, so it is really lent to the banks.
Q. And what do the banks do with it?
A. Lend it to other customers.
Q. But you said that money they lent to other people was Assets?
Q. Then Assets and Liabilities must be the same thing?
A. You can't really say that.
Q. But you've just said it. If I put $100 into my account the bank is liable to have to pay it back, so it's Liabilities. But they go and lend it to someone else, and he is liable to have to pay it back, so it's Assets. It's the same $100, isn't it?
A. Yes. But...
Q. Then it cancels out. It means, doesn't it, that banks haven't really any money at all?
Q. Never mind theoretically. And if they haven't any money, where do they get their Reserves of $249,000,000 or thereabouts?
A. I told you. That is the money they have made.
A. Well, when they lend your $100 to someone they charge him interest.
Q. How much?
A. It depends on the Bank Rate. Say five and a-half percent. That's their profit.
Q. Why isn't it my profit? Isn't it my money?
A. It's the theory of banking practice that...
Q. When I lend them my $100 why don't I charge them interest?
A. You do.
Q. You don't say. How much?
A. It depends on the Bank Rate. Say half a percent.
Q. Grasping of me, rather?
A. But that's only if you're not going to draw the money out again.
Q. But of course, I'm going to draw it out again. If I hadn't wanted to draw it out again I could have buried it in the garden, couldn't I?
A. They wouldn't like you to draw it out again.
Q. Why not? If I keep it there you say it's a Liability. Wouldn't they be glad if I reduced their Liabilities by removing it?
A. No. Because if you remove it they can't lend it to anyone else.
Q. But if I wanted to remove it They'd have to let me?
Q. But suppose they've already lent it to another customer?
A. Then they'll let you have someone else's money.
Q. But suppose he wants his too ... and they've let me have it?
A. You're being purposely obtuse.
Q. I think I'm being acute. What if everyone wanted their money at once?
A. It's the theory of banking practice that they never would.
Q. So what banks bank on is not having to meet their commitments?
A. I wouldn't say that.
Q. Naturally. Well, if there's nothing else you think you can tell me...?
A. Quite so. Now you can go off and open a banking account.
Q. Just one last question.
A. Of course.
Q. Wouldn't I do better to go off and open up a bank?
Well I was going to put a bit more but this thing got long as all hell before I even realized it. Anyway, I'm always looking to pick up new books, if you got something to suggest let me know.
Currently I'm in the middle of "Tragedy and Hope" by Carroll Quigley and that one is a tough read! It's good if you have the patience and the interest but it's tough.
Hope this encourages at least one person to pick up a non-fiction book and give it a shot. The old cliche "Truth is stranger than fiction." is really no joke. I think if you give it a chance you'll find that no fiction murder mystery, no harry potter, dungeons and dragons or Tom Clancy books can compete with real world history and real world events.