Must Reading: ‘Short History of Financial Euphoria’

I’m not sure when he wrote the first edition of his A Short History of Financial Euphoria, but the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith updated it in 1990 following the stock market crash of 1987 and then the savings and loan meltdown of the late 1980s. Those times seem tame compared to what’s transpiring now. Unfortunately, Mr. Galbraith is no longer around to blame our all current problems on Republicans, as he does in this book. (At least in his The Great Crash 1929, he finds plenty of blame to spread around, including to the Federal Reserve.)

I call this book, which is really only a hundred or so pages long and can be read in an hour, must reading because it confirms what should be obvious: Crashes develop because of greed and speculation. What may not be obvious–in fact, I know it’s not that obvious to the general publi–is that greed and speculation arise only after the government fans the flames of, well, greed and speculation by…

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Mastering the Art of French English Writing

I recently picked up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by the late and absolutely great chef Julia Child in preparation for a book I was and still am considering to write

While I’ve tried, so far, one of her recipes–the first one, in fact, for Potage Promentier (potato-leek soup)–what truly impresses me about this book is the the absolutely simple, clear and understandable English that Julia used in writing it. No wonder it became the revolutionary cookbook that changed American cooking and eating habits.

Julia Child was an American, of course, who found herself in France with her husband while he was on a diplomatic mission. She soon mastered the French language but also French cuisine, whch she shares in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Even if you have no intention of learning to cook French food, Julia’s book–at least the introduction in which she tells the story of her years in Paris–is a must read to see how beautiful simply written English can be.

Back in her day, people communicated largely by letter since phones were still too expensive and still pretty scarce. People were foced to learn how to make themselves understood in writing. It clearly shows in this masterful work.

How Far Will Obama Go to Be the ‘Un-Bush’?

In more obfuscation and lawyerese, Obama and his stormtroopers have now exorcised reality from the English language.

Instead of "war on terror" or "war on terrorism," they’re using "overseas contingency operations," and instead of "acts of terror," they’re referring to "man-caused disasters."

George Orwell would be proud, in a negative sort of way, of course.

All of this prompted satirist Joe Queenan to rewrite some Talibanic sayings. In his reworking, "beheadings" become "cephalic attrition" and "flayings" have morphed into "unsolicited epidermal reconfigurations."

Oh, my, and at least another four years of this nonsense out of the nation’s capital, or rather, four more years of this "syntactic reconsideration and reconstitution," otherwise known in plain language, as "utter bullshit."