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February 05, 2012

Sunday Book Thread

Two new books this weeks, both on the Kindle:

The first is Charles Murray's Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010. Murray's thesis is that the real cultural gap in this country has less to do with race or geographical location than it does with IQ. I haven't read the book yet, but his thesis seems to be that the big cultural changes initiated in the 1960's -- women's liberation, promiscuity, pervasive divorce, single-parenthood, an abandonment of religiosity -- were largely abandoned by the elites by the 1990's as unworkable. But those of lower IQ found it difficult to go back to the traditional ways, even as the new paradigm ended up hurting them the most.

(You'll note that I use IQ rather than wealth or class as a grouping mechanism. I don't know if Murray does this explicitly, but it seems to me to be the obvious upshot of his thesis. Brighter people saw the harm the socio-cultural changes were doing to their lives, and reversed the trend; duller people, lacking the insight and mental capacity for this kind of change, remained mired in the dysfunctional "lower class".)

I expect that I'll find a lot to disagree with in Murray's book. For one, I believe that the inexorable rise of the welfare state has done as much to ruin the family as any other social trend in the past 50 years -- when women can turn to the government rather than their husbands for financial help and support with child-rearing, men become little more than distractions (and often burdensome ones) in their daily lives. The catastrophic destruction of the black family in the past 50 years may be only the first wave; similar patters are emerging in the hispanic and white poor communities.

I also picked up Scott Rasmussen's The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt. Rasmussen's thesis is pretty much conventional wisdom among Tea Partiers at this point -- politicians either will not or cannot arrest the slide of our nation into insolvency, so it will fall to the average citizen to do it, by sending a new breed of fiscal hawk to Washington. The 2010 elections seem to buttress Rasmussen's point, but the 2012 Presidential election will tell the tale: if Obama wins another term (as he very well might), then it will prove that the center of gravity in this country has simply moved too far to the left. If that's the case...DOOM.


Moron book recommendations should be sent to aoshqbookthread AT gmail DOT com.

Cameron Williams sends two post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers: Westerly Gales and The Cruise of the 'Albatros'.

Jack Brennan sends a recommendation for The Tarim Mummies by J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair.

Libra sends a recommendation for Snorkel: Immersions in Time by Louis Galiano.

Erik sends a couple of titles that should appeal to the budding sociopaths and Inquisition re-enactors among us: Infernal Device: Machinery of Torture and execution and The Torture Device Coloring Book (for the kiddies and sociopaths-in-training).

Ray sends a recommendation for Dan Simmons' novel Flashback. I loved Simmons' Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, but I haven't read this one yet.

Brian F. sends a recommendation for Ransom Riggs' fantasy book Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children. It looks sort of like a Victorian-era X-Men kind of deal, only spookier.

David Ross ("Boulder Toilet Hobo") sends his scholarly collection of essays Arabs and Their Qu'ran. The focus is on the first century of Islam, and how it developed in that critical time.

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posted by Monty at 09:19 AM

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