Finished Reading: Floating City By Sudhir Venkatesh

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This book was a tremendous challenge from the standpoint of having numerous emotions about the characters in which the author wrote. Having previously worked with the homeless and downtrodden, it is difficult for me to still understand the thought process and emotions of the characters in this book and that I have dealt with. I wanted so many times in this book to ask the Dr. Phil question: How is this working for you?

One of emotions that people have of all classes that in my opinion is the most difficult to overcome is beating themselves up over something that happened numerous years ago. We, including myself, keep bringing this thing up and holding ourselves back from moving forward because of something in our past. I saw this time and time again in this book and it made me want to leap through the pages and shake the characters and tell them to move forward and let it go.

This book reinforced in me that we let situations control us too much and that we must realize that we have free will and need to use it for our good and what makes us better for ourselves and society in general. I will need to reread this book in a way I have never reread in order to truly understand the emotional mindset of the characters and also the author and his emotions as he was writing this and living through this.

Venkatesh did a tremendous job in researching and telling his story and I really recommend this book to anyone interested in social science.

I have included another video for your interest from the author:

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Currently Reading: Floating City By Sudhir Venkatesh

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I started this book this afternoon and it appears to be very similar to On The Run by Alice Goffman. I have mixed emotions when I read this type of book due to the difficulties that the ethnographer has in separating their work from their feelings. There seems to me that there might be a book about the relationships (personal I mean) between the ethnographer and his or her subjects. Maybe I am reading too much into it, but it seems like a fair assumption.

I have included this video from the author about the book for your viewing. I hope you find it informative.

Currently Inspectionally Reading: (1)

Since I have so much to read I have finally gotten it in my head to begin inspectionally reading some of the books that are increasing the size of my pile. (almost to the ceiling by my reading chair at this point). I am planning on allowing one hour per book and then deciding if I want to read them analytically. Here they are in no particular order.

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Floating City     Sudhir Venkatesh

I have included a video for your viewing on this book. Like I said I haven’t read it nor have I looked at any reviews.

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Plagues And Peoples    William H. McNeil

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Philosophy Of History     G.W.F. Hegel

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Micromotives And Macrobehavior     Thomas C. Schelling

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Singularity Rising     James D. Miller

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Hope Against Hope     Sarah Carr

I am attempting to read books that cover a wide range of subjects such as education, technology, history and cities. I will be writing short reviews on these as I finish them. If any of readers have read these, I would appreciate any comments or thoughts on each one of these.

Assorted Links December 28, 2013

(1) http://www.decisionresearch.org/pdf/Slovic1973handout.pdf                                             Paper from Paul Slovic 1973 More Info–> More Confidence But No Better Results Tweet  From Michael J. Mauboussin

(2) From Scientific American Tweet: 13 Obvious Scientific Findings Of 2013                        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-13-most-obvious-findings

(3) 15 Countries At High Risk Of Causing Resource Supply Disruptions From Charles C. Mann Tweet http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40309-013-0034-1

(4) From The Wall Street Journal Tweet: Is 2014 The Year Of The Israel IPO Wave?           http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/12/27/israeli-ipo-wave-expected-in-2014/?mod=e2tw

(5) From The Atlantic Cities Tweet: San Francisco Is Loving Its Sewers.                               http://www.theatlanticcities.com/neighborhoods/2013/12/san-francisco-wants-you-love-its-sewer-system/7945/

Currently Reading: “The Science Of Cities: Is Urbanization Sustainable?”

Geoffrey West.

Geoffrey West. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This afternoon I found this article on www.bigthink.com entitled “The Science of Cities: Is Urbanization Sustainable?”  and the gist of the article is about The Santa Fe Institute and its study of urbanization. I found some interesting thoughts that I wanted to share with our readers. This quote from Geoffrey West from The Santa Fe Institute:

“is New York just a scaled up San Francisco, which is a scaled up Santa Fe? Superficially, that seems unlikely because they look so different…On the other hand, a whale doesn’t look much like a giraffe. But in fact, they’re scaled versions of one another, at this kind of cross-grained 85, 90 percent level.”

Another interesting statistic from the article is:

West and colleagues tracking these dynamics of urban centers around the world have discerned therein lies laws containing a “universality” to them. For instance, “doubling the size of a city systematically increases income, wealth, number of patents, number of colleges, number of creative people, number of police, amount of waste… all by approximately 15%.” Additionally, this doubling effect “saves approximately 15% on all infrastructures.” These results have been observed in hundreds of cities and counting, all around the world.

As a county commissioner, I need to keep my eye on such as I find these type of statistics absolutely fascinating!

Continued Reading: Kafka: The Decisive Years

English: A picture taken on June 27, 2008 in P...

English: A picture taken on June 27, 2008 in Prague, Czech Republic of the former house of Franz Kafka. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am around page 120 of this detailed biography of Franz Kafka by Reiner Stach and am amazed with the insecurity and indecisiveness of Franz Kafka. Even though I read the third volume first, (don’t ask me why), Kafka: The Years Of Insight, I am glad I did it so I could see how Kafka changed until his premature death. His insecurity, especially with his writing and his relationships (especially with women) has really been eye-opening especially in reading about someone that is perceived as a genius. I honestly picked these books about Kafka up to understand the phrase ‘Kafkaesque’. I had no idea what that meant but on page 115 I read part of this paragraph which gave me a better understanding:

“Suddenly—without guide or precedent, it seemed—the Kafka cosmos was at hand, fully equipped with the ‘Kafkaesque’ inventory that now gives his work its distinctive character: the father figure who is both overpowering and dirty, the hollow rationality of the narrator, the juridical structures imposed on life, the dream logic of the plot, and last but not least, the flow of the story perpetually at odds with the hopes and expectations of the hero.”

I am truly enjoying studying about someone with the genius of Kafka but even more intriguing is how Stach explores his faults and shortcomings. This is the beauty of these two volumes.

Recently Purchased: The Metropolitan Revolution

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book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been intrigued by the science of cities as proposed by Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt of the Santa Fe Institute. I have begun to read books such as  Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser, Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City by Alan Ehrenhalt.

I have recently purchased The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley, which looks to be an interesting book about how cities are breaking political barriers and diversifying their economies. The book focuses on success stories in such places as Portland, Oregon and even in Detroit. Mr. Katz and Ms. Bradley are both associated with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. I have moved this book up my pile and will let you know some of my thoughts on this book.