14th July 2013: George Packer’s The Unwinding

The Unwinding (2013)
The Unwinding (2013)

I’m spending this weekend with George Packer’s new book¬†The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2013). It’s a collection of micro-histories (Johan Galtung & Sohail Inayatullah): how individual lives are affected by socio-economic and socio-political upheavals, and the consequences of choices made. Packer modelled his book on John Don Passos’¬†USA trilogy, and, perhaps, Studs Terkel. It’s a gripping read.

5th December 2011: OWS/Free Agent Nation

George Packer’s New Yorker profile of unemployed activist Ray Kachel at New York’s Zuccotti Park has an unexplored sub-current. Kachel grew up as a freelance video editor and web developer during the 1995-2000 dotcom boom and during the Free Agent Nation era that Daniel H. Pink conceived for Fast Company Magazine. The deeper roots of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) perhaps lie in how the deflated dotcom bubble affected this group of entrepreneurs. Here’s what I wrote for Disinformation when the dotcom crash occurred in April 2000: Dot.com Disaster: The New E-Poor. Over a decade later, the lessons of the dotcom period have helped turn OWS into an effective meme in US domestic politics for the income inequality debate.

Worth Reading

Personal Research Program

Slate‘s Daniel Gross on why Conde Nast closed Gourmet:
Gross contends CN’s decision is a ‘capitulation’ indicator to leave a
market, and it needed a McKinsey’s report to cut costs.The New York
has an interactive feature on CN’s shrinking portfolio of publications.

ACSPRI’s 2010 summer program on mixed methods research.

The New Yorker‘s George Packer on what Obama and the Generals are reading:
Packer has two excellent paragraphs on the limits of analogical
thinking, what history is useful for, and how it should guide
policymakers. Worth comparison with the National Defense University’s Professional Military Reading List notably the Joint Forces Staff College reading list.
Packer has a useful decision rule to deal with confirmation bias: “no
books that you already know will confirm the views you already hold.”

Vanity Fair‘s Next Establishment list: there’s a potential research program here for somebody to map Digital Hollywood’s deal flow using Pajek or other social network analysis software.

Worth Reading

Personal Research Program

The Analysis of Breathtaking Risk research note and applied summary.

George Packer reads the McChrystal Report on Afghanistan, after The Washington Post‘s editors delayed its public release.

Michael O’Hanlon’s Foreign Affairs article on the retreat of US missile defence in Europe.

Scenes from the Violent Twilight of Oil.

Entertainment Economy

Slate‘s Louis P. Masur on the making of Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run.

Tweet Memes

Why Richard Posner Became A Keynesian.

Newly Declassified Files Detail Massive FBI Data-Mining Project.