Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Communism by Archie Brown

The way communism was to work was people received what they needed and contributed what they could. Problem with this is that it does not work. Why would you work when you saw that others did not, but got the same things as you did? I remember one Russian worker at the fall of communism say, “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”. See an entry on Wikipedia on Russian Jokes .

Our North American Indians practiced such a policy of people contributing what they can and getting back what they need. However, these were small groups of people and they deeply depended on each other to survive. If not everyone contributed then the group would not survive. They also need to take care of members of the group so the group would survive.

Brown starts off with philosophical beginnings of the communist creed and traces communism to its down fall. I think that it fell because not everyone wants the same thing. That seemed to be the philosophy of communism that everyone got the same things. Of course, this is not what really happened; the leaders and the elite lived much better than the masses. A lot of people wanted to escape. This seemed to be the reason for the downfall of communism.

There were lots of good reasons people had to try and improve the lot of the common man. Karl Marx said a lot of interesting things. I think in the west that we ignore a lot of the stuff he said to our philosophical detriment. He was thinking of a better future of the lot of the common man. He was wrong in how to better the lot of the common man, but that does not take away the fact that he said interesting things and was a great thinker. There is a biography on Karl Max on Wikipedia . There is another great article on him at The History Guide under Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History.

For a good book review, see The Telegraph . You can see part of a lecture by Archie Brown about this book on Book TV and another short interview at YouTube.
There is a lot of interesting videos on YouTube about the fall of communism. See YouTube. This is about the Fall of Communism – 1991 giving news as it happens. There are 6 parts to this newscast. Also, there is a YouTube documentary on the Soviet loss of control over Eastern Europe. See YouTube. There is also a documentary on the Ceausescu execution in 1989 on YouTube.

This may be a long book at over 700 pages, but it is an easy and enjoyable read. We are so lucky nowadays because not only can we read books available, but we can also see lectures by our authors on the internet and see lots of information on the internet about any subject we can to read about.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Brown. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

The full title of this book is Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the rich teach their kids about money – that the poor and middle class do not. Also, Sharon L. Lechter was involved in writing this book.

This is the second time I have read this book. It is quite interesting. Although, I have not bought and sold real estate to make money, I have spent time building up the assets side of my balance sheet. The other thing I like about this book is when he talks about a house being a liability not an asset. I do believe this. There are good reasons to buy a house, but buying it and considering it an asset is not a good idea. Houses costs lots of money and are a cash drain.

I have not always paid myself first as this book suggests (and other people do to). Live has it ups and downs and this is not always possible. During my working life, I worked for a company that was bought out (and I lost my job) and company that went bankrupt (and I lost my job). I have also worked for companies that downsized and most of the time I was ok, but it was touch and go for a while. I also had my husband die and leave me with a small child to look after. At the worst of times, I may not have saved money, but I always did my best to live within my means.

The other thing I liked about this book was Robert talking about risk. He says you do not avoid it, what you do is manage it. I was never terrified of losing money in an investment. I did that, but I was always somewhat cautious and never lost a lot on one investment.

Another thing I like about Robert’s book is that he says you should work to learn, not work for money. Money can only motivate you so far. In my working life, I took on new jobs because I thought I would learn from the experience and I did. I never regretted this. Although, I must admit that sometimes it was scary to take on a job that had not previously existed, there were benefits. The main benefit being is that you can write you own job description.

There is an interview, in 5 parts, of Robert Kiyosaki interviewed by Philippe Matthews. See
Interview Part 1 , Interview Part 2 and
Interview Part 3 . Once you start with the first interview on youtube, the others should show in the right side bar.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Kiyosaki. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

The Next Decade by George Friedman

This is an absolutely fascinating book. I know a lot about history and I think that this helps to understand some of the issues this author brings up.

If you want to get a good idea of what the future world might look like, this is a very good place to begin to look at the issues. However, this book is very much written from an American viewpoint. It is also written from an old British idea of the best sort of world for the British Empire is a world were the countries in each area have a balance of power. Of course, the way George Friedman writes is that this is the best idea also for the American Empire. That is it is best that the countries in each area have a balance of power.

Let’s face it, China will rise and be a force to be reckon with in the future, I by no means feel that America is doomed in any way. China (and India) produced a large part of the world’s GDP until quite recently. It is not surprising that both these countries would rise up again. However, I think that what the Americans have going for them is the ability to change and innovate.

For a good review of this book, see SFGate. There is another excellent review at Word Press. Also, see an interview on YouTube.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Friedman. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why The West Rules by Ian Morris

The full name of the book is Why The West Rules - For Now, The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future. If you want a great book that clearly explains social development of the West and the East. This is the book to get. As a study of the past, it is absolutely great. However, when Ian Morris tries to look into the future, his writing falls completely apart as he does such a poor job of it.

What Morris calls the West is the Middle East and Europe. What he calls the East is China. The West started to develop around 12,000 BCE, but then it was interrupted by the Younger Drayas. This is because the world got very cold. The theory is that the North American current got shut down because of an influx of fresh water came from the Great Lakes Area of Canada into what is now the St. Lawrence River. The theory states that this water had been held back by ice that suddenly broke. After 10,000 BCE, the West started to develop again.

Why did development start in the West? The main reason is that cereals come from wild grasses. And, there are 56 possible wild grasses, of which 32 grew in the wild in S.W. Asia and the Mediterranean basin. (Cereals are things like wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum etc.) Looking at the rest of the world, East Asia had 6, Central America 5, Africa, south of the Sahara 4, North America 2 and Western Europe 2 of these grasses.

The next item is the number of animals that could be domesticated. There are 14 animals that man has domesticated. Of these animals, 7 came from the Middle East and some of these are the most common ones of sheep, goat, cow and pig. East Asia had 5, South America had 1 and North America, Australia, and Africa had none.

So, the West got started in developing around 10,000 BCE and China around 8,000 BCE. The West had the lead until the Roman Empire fell around 550 CE. Then China lead in social development until around 1750 when it was over taken by North Western Europe. (Although I know, some people think that China started to decline before 1750 and because of this North Western Europe was ahead before this time.)

There other interesting thing is social development in the West. Except for the Roman Empire time, the most socially developed area was the Middle East until around 1400. It is around 1400 that the Europe started to develop ahead of the Middle East. By 1900, social development was advancing not only in North West Europe, but also on the North East coast of North America. By the year 2000, America had pulled ahead of the rest of the world.

If you want to know what is meant by social development, this book will explain it in detail. He gives his web site where he explains social development even further. See Ian Morris. See the biography of Ian Morris. See an interview video with Ian Morris. For a book review, see McClelland site.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Morris. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On God by Norman Mailer

In my youth, I read books by Mailer, but I have not read anything by him recently, until I came across this one. He has been criticized for not having a complete philosophy, but I would have to tell you, neither do I. This is the only “God: book I have read. The others do not appeal to me. I have flipped through others, but I must say, I like Norman Mailer. I like reading people who have interesting things to say. I like people who get you thinking about things.

I am not a religious person and I do not go to church or pray on a regular basis. But, who has not prayed when troubles are piling upon them? I am not an atheist; I do not think I am agnostic. However, beyond that, it gets pretty unclear. What I do know is that I have relatives in the US Bible belt and they are very nice people. They are also more tolerant of other people ideas and believes that either Christopher Higgins or Richard Dawkins.

Norman Mailer is always interesting to read. So, if you want to read a book on God that it interesting and thought provoking, this would be a good choice.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Mailer. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.