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Local Book Notes: How Bourgeois Equality And Jewelry Changed The World

"Twenty years ago, Donald McCloskey, a brash and brilliant economist at the University of Iowa, surprised the academic world (and his family) by transitioning to Deirdre," The Chronicle of Higher Education notes.

"In a 1996 profile in The Chronicle, McCloskey is quoted as saying, 'I expected to lose my job. I was prepared to move to Spokane and become a secretary in a grain elevator, but I didn't have to.'

"No, she didn't. McCloskey has continued to thrive as a scholar. The final installment of her trilogy on the Bourgeois era, Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, will be published in May by the University of Chicago Press."

Which is interesting, but click through to read the interview - which is about writing.

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From her publisher:

"Few economists or historians write like McCloskey - her ability to invest the facts of economic history with the urgency of a novel, or of a leading case at law, is unmatched. She summarizes modern economics and modern economic history with verve and lucidity, yet sees through to the really big scientific conclusion."

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And about the book:

"There's little doubt that most humans today are better off than their forebears. Stunningly so, the economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey argues in the concluding volume of her trilogy celebrating the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie. The poorest of humanity, McCloskey shows, will soon be joining the comparative riches of Japan and Sweden and Botswana.

"Why? Most economists - from Adam Smith and Karl Marx to Thomas Piketty - say the Great Enrichment since 1800 came from accumulated capital. McCloskey disagrees, fiercely.

"'Our riches,' she argues, 'were made not by piling brick on brick, bank balance on bank balance, but by piling idea on idea.'

"Capital was necessary, but so was the presence of oxygen. It was ideas, not matter, that drove 'trade-tested betterment.' Nor were institutions the drivers. The World Bank orthodoxy of 'add institutions and stir' doesn't work, and didn't.

"McCloskey builds a powerful case for the initiating role of ideas - ideas for electric motors and free elections, of course, but more deeply the bizarre and liberal ideas of equal liberty and dignity for ordinary folk.

"Liberalism arose from theological and political revolutions in northwest Europe, yielding a unique respect for betterment and its practitioners, and upending ancient hierarchies. Commoners were encouraged to have a go, and the bourgeoisie took up the Bourgeois Deal, and we were all enriched."

And It Stoned Me
"The French Revolution, the English Renaissance, the birth of the Soviet Union and the rise of Japan - each one began with a gem. At least that's the viewpoint of the jewelry designer Aja Raden in her book Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World (Ecco/Harper Collins, $27.99)," the New York Times notes.

My reaction? Here we go again. Take a mundane item and plug it in: How ___ Shaped The World. Dirt. Grease. Salt. Insults. Beer. Ketchup.

I'm only writing this item for this:

"Ms. Raden studied ancient history and physics at the University of Chicago - 'What are you going to do with those degrees?' she asked rhetorically. She was head of the auction division of the House of Kahn Estate Jewelers in Chicago and then senior designer for the Tacori jewelry company in California."

Noted.

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From the publisher:

"As entertaining as it is incisive, Stoned is a raucous journey through the history of human desire for what is rare, and therefore precious.

"What makes a stone a jewel? What makes a jewel priceless? And why do we covet beautiful things? In this brilliant account of how eight jewels shaped the course of history, jeweler and scientist Aja Raden tells an original and often startling story about our unshakeable addiction to beauty and the darker side of human desire.

"What moves the world is what moves each of us: desire. Jewelry - which has long served as a stand-in for wealth and power, glamor and success - has birthed cultural movements, launched political dynasties, and started wars . . . "

Battle Bots And Bagwomen
"It's Best Not to Interrupt Her Experiments consists of a series of poems featuring women - some fictional, some nonfictional. There are bounty hunters, Battle Bots champs, werewolves, homunculi, escape artists, archers, and CIA bagwomen. Even Lucy, now an adult, attempts to come to terms with her systematic torturing of her childhood pal, Charlie Brown, and wonders why she never let him kick that football," writes the Portuguese American Journal.

The author, Carlo Matos, teaches at the City Colleges of Chicago.

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"As adults we know that being the leader of the gang only looks fun."

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FYI: "A former fighter, [Matos] now trains and coaches cage fighters and kickboxers."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 21, 2016


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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