November 30, 2017

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, November 2017

Attention conservation notice: I have no taste, and no credentials to opine about the sociology of inequality, or even really about social-scientific methodology.

Gail Simone et al., Clean Room: Immaculate Conception, Exile, Waiting for the Stars to Fall
Comic-book mind candy: apocalypse-fiction horror, in which the maniacal cultists transparently modeled on Scientology are the (comparative) good guys, and more or less exactly right. (This is not a spoiler.) Also, creatures which aren't human, or even apparently mammals, spout an impressive amount of misogynist bile.
Tessa Harris, The Anatomist's Apprentice
Mind candy. I wanted to like a historical mystery about forensic pathology in the 1780s, but multiple characters referring to "bacteria", a surgeon unironically addressing common laborers as "gentlemen", and the whole plot hinging on a titled English estate not being entailed, led me to give up mentally fairly early on. I finished it because I had left myself without other reading matter on a long trip. Possibly worth-while for readers with a much higher tolerance for anachronism.
Robert D. Putnam, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
This is a well-written piece of popular social science about just how much the life of the more-educated upper and upper-middle classes has diverged from that of the less-educated poor and working class, and how this utterly, completely screws over the children of the poor. (Putnam takes some care to document that this isn't just about race, while realizing that it is also about race.) Equality of opportunity was never an American reality, but it is increasingly a mockery even as an ideal. Little here would be news to anyone paying attention to the issues, but it's still depressing to see it all laid out in this concentrated form.
The last chapter, about policy remedies, is so inadequate to the scale of the problems laid out in the first five chapters that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I suspect Putnam doesn't know either.
Howard S. Becker, Evidence
My remarks, at 1200+ words, have grown into a review.

Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur; Pleasures of Detection, Portraits of Crime; The Beloved Republic; Scientifiction and Fantastica; Tales of Our Ancestors; Commit a Social Science

Posted at November 30, 2017 23:59 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth