Davos Newbies Home

I wish my Greek was better (and as for my Latin…) 

I’ve only just come across the wonderful Sauvage Noble. Highly recommended. Through it I’ve also come across the Ancient Library. Great stuff.

The Ancient Library, in turn, led me to the Wiki Classical Dictionary. It’s at a very early stage: there’s no entry, for example, on Homer. But I wonder whether the world is served by balkanizing the Wikipedia? Why not contribute these wonderful classical entries to the mother ship? A few random checks suggests to me that the Wikipedia is already doing pretty well on the classics.

Steer clear of Freakonomics 

I eagerly bought my copy of Freakonomics by Steven Leavitt and Stephen Dubner on the day it came out this week. I’m not the only one: it’s number two on Amazon.com today.

Freakonomics looks at the work of economist Leavitt and others who are examining interesting, real world problems like how many sumo wrestlers cheat, why crack dealers live with their mothers and the relationship between the ’90s decline in crime and Roe v Wade.

That sounds great, and it’s unquestionably true that there are good stories in these examples. But the book is poorly written, with none of the nuance of Malcolm Gladwell (who blurbs Freakonomics on the back cover). The writing is dumbed down to extremes and the cases seemed to me to be heavily padded. Even with that, it barely reaches 200 pages.

Freakonomics grew out of a New York Times Magazine article, and I’m afraid the result shows that some articles don’t deserve to be expanded into books. Leavitt is doing wonderful work, but there wasn’t enough meat in the book for me.

If you want a different view, my favorite economist blogger says it’s “highly, highly recommended”.

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