September 30, 2009


Atwood, Margaret, The Year of the Flood: A Novel (New York: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2009) ("What is it about our own Species that leaves us so vulnerable to the impulse to violence? Why are we so addicted to the shedding of blood? Whenever we are tempted to become puffed up, and to see ourselves as superior to all other Animals, we should reflect on our own brutal history." Id. at 312. "Is that what pigs want her to do? Go outside her defensive walls, into the open, so they can jump her, knock her down, then rip her open? Have a pig-style outdoor picnic. A pig-out. She has a fair idea of what that would look like. The Gardeners weren't squeamish about describing the eating habits of God's various Creatures: to flinch at these would be hypocritical. No one comes into the world clutching a knife and fork and a frying pan, Zeb was fond of saying. Or a table napkin. And if we eat pigs, why shouldn't pigs eat us? If they find us lying around." Id. at 320.).

Kidder, Tracy, Mountains Beyond Mountains (New York: Random House, 2003) (“The quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the world”).

Kristof, Nicholas D., & Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (New York: Knopf, 2009) (See Irshad Manji, “Changed Lives”, in The NYT Sunday Book Review, September 20, 2009. “’Half the Sky’ tackles atrocities and indignities from sex trafficking to maternal mortality, from obstetric fistulas to acid attacks, and absorbing the fusillade of horrors can feel like an assault of its own. But the poignant portraits of survivors humanize the issues, divulging facts that moral outrage might otherwise eclipse.” Id.).

Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor, Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age (Princeton & Oxford: Princeton U. Press, 2009) (“Will our children be outspoken in online equivalents of school newspapers if they fear their blunt words might hurt their future careers? Will we protest against corporate greed or environmental destruction if we worry that these corporations may in some distant future refuse doing business with us? In democracies, individuals are both citizens and consumers. They engage in economic transactions, and take sides on public issues. At times, they may find themselves opposing what their transaction partners advocate. In the analog world, if a person wasn’t particularly outspoken, one could easily do both: engage and oppose a transactional partner. Take automobile companies. One can easily buy a car and still advocate for higher emission standards opposed by car manufacturers. Suppose transactional partners knew our views much more precisely. Would they still transact with us, offer us the best price, perhaps even employ us? Just the thought that they might not, may constrain our willingness to act as consumers, let alone as citizens.” Id. at 111. READ THIS BOOK! ).

Sandel, Michael J., Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009) (“When moral reflection turns political, when it asks what laws should govern our collective life, it needs some engagement with the tumult of the city, with the arguments and incidents that roil the public mind. Debates over bailouts and price gouging, income inequality and affirmative action, military service and same-sex marriage, are the stuff of political philosophy. They prompt us to articulate and justify our moral and political convictions, not only among family and friends but also in the demanding company of our fellow citizens.” Id. at 29. A worthwhile introductory read for anyone tired of the void of critical thinking in much of American political discourse. Also, see the review"Rights and Wrongs: First Principles of Justice," in The Economist, September 26, 2009.)

Twenge, Jean M. & W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (New York: The Free Press, 2009) (“Narcissists are also not popular bosses. Employees rate narcissistic managers as average in problem-solving skills but below average in interpersonal skills and integrity, two qualities considered very important for management. Another study found that while narcissists saw themselves as excelling at leadership, their peers thought they were below average.” Id. at 45. “The findings presented in The Millionaire Next Door are counterintuitive. Americans see people with fancy cars and clothes and assume they must be rich. In reality, it is often safer to assume that they are in debt.” The credit crunch that paralyzed the economy in the late 2000s is, at base, the conflict between the pleasure principle—it looks great and get what it wants, but it hurts other people and even the self in the long run. In contrast, the reality principle isn’t flashy or self-promoting, but it does lead to actual wealth. At least until 2008, most Americans were living on the narcissistic pleasure principle. Easier and easier credit allowed them to live out grandiose, materialistic fantasies—until the bill came due.” Id. at 137-138. “Cheating is also rampant, and growing, among students. In 2002, 74% of high school students admitted to cheating, up from 61% in 1992. In 1969, only 34% of high school students admitted to cheating, less than half of the 2002 number. A large 2008 survey of teens found that two-thirds admitted to cheating and nearly one-third had stolen something from a store. Nevertheless, 93% said they were satisfied with their personal ethics—a classically narcissistic disconnect between reality and self-concept. [] A 2004 study of 25,000 high school students found that 67% of the boys and 52% of girls agreed that ‘in the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.’” Id. at 206.).