Reading Notes | 2023.11: Economic Thinking, Dynastic Politics, Detective Novels, etc.

Title: Reading Notes | 2023.11: Economic Thinking, Historical Politics, Detective Novels, etc.
Date: 2023-12-01T21:03:06+08:00
Slug: read-202311

  • Read
    Description: Spiritual nourishment for November.
    Draft: false



This month was a month of random reading, a month without purpose. I read some good books and some bad books - at least, in my opinion. So, reading should still match one's own preferences. Bestsellers and recommendations from others may not necessarily be suitable for oneself.

I insist on organizing my reading list every month as a way of reviewing and selecting, constantly understanding my own position. Sharing it publicly is also a reference for others. I don't usually disclose the rating of a book because I think it can affect readers' first impressions of the book. I simply express my understanding and feelings about the book. If readers feel interested between the lines, it means that this book may resonate with them.

"Homage to Catalonia"#


This is Orwell's memoir of his experience in the Spanish Civil War. The book does not have many descriptions of the war; most of the time is spent in the trenches, with only a few moments of actual combat, as he said, "From morning till night, meaningless bullets flew between the empty valleys, and only in extremely rare cases did they hit someone." Ironically, this extremely rare case happened to him - he was shot through the throat by a fascist sniper, and he was lucky to survive and be taken off the front lines.

During his time on the front lines, he witnessed the cruelty of war, but also witnessed the struggles between various factions, making those who risked their lives on the front lines seem like clowns. He joined the war as a volunteer soldier, but did not expect to participate in such a war.

He was a socialist, his understanding of democratic socialism. From this war, he saw another possibility of socialism, which was the Soviet Union under Stalin's rule. This experience must have given him countless inspirations and laid the foundation for his subsequent political stance - opposition to totalitarianism.

"The Economic Way of Thinking"#


  • Action requires signals, and prices are the signals of the market.
  • Value depends on the situation we face. For example, water in the desert and diamonds.
  • In economics, what matters is marginal value, and economic analysis is marginal analysis.
  • Everything depends on other things. This sentence is very insightful.
  • Cost is subjective cost, the value of the opportunity given up.
  • Interest represents the difference in value between a commodity in the present and in the future.
  • Prices are not determined solely by costs. When prices rise, it may be due to increased demand, but capitalists only mention the former because mentioning the latter goes against the principles of business.
  • When designing pricing, it is necessary to consider people who are less accepting of the current price, but also consider those who are not concerned about the current price, otherwise it will lead to lower profits. (Typical examples include e-commerce platforms, where some people do not care about the price, while others are price-sensitive. The platform designs a coupon logic, where spending a certain cost can get the same product at a lower price, taking into account both the original customers and the price-sensitive customers.)
  • Any currency must meet two key conditions in order to maintain value: limited supply and people's belief that future supply will remain limited.

"Data-Driven Decision Making"#


This book is dry and boring, but it may be because I haven't reached the stage where I need to read it yet, considering it claims to be a decision-making methodology used by the Fortune 500 companies :)

However, some of the quotes and viewpoints in it do resonate with me or provide inspiration. Here are some excerpts:

  • When you can quantify the things you are talking about and describe them with numbers, you truly have a deep understanding of them. But if you cannot describe them with numbers, then your mind has not reached the state of scientific thinking. - Lord Kelvin, British physicist
  • The purpose of quantification is for decision-making. Any quantification requires costs, so it is necessary to measure the costs of the quantification process and the benefits brought by the decision-making after quantification.
  • Many things that seem unquantifiable can be quantified by changing perspectives or breaking them down.

"Red Capital"#


This is a book without ratings or comments on Douban, which discusses the unique financial system in China.

The book points out that, against the backdrop of China's rapid development, the country's financial system still faces significant risks. The root of these risks lies in the low level of marketization and the lack of a sound risk control system in China's financial system, resulting in a large number of bad debts. To fill these bad debts, China has adopted non-market means, using residents' savings to absorb them, but this has also brought a series of problems.

"Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned"#


This is a long and stinky essay that could be a topic for the college entrance examination.

For such a topic, any ordinary person can think of outlining it: planning is useful, at least for small goals; planning has many limitations, such as affecting divergent thinking, etc.; examples can be given to illustrate that great achievements in history did not come according to plan...

Yes, this book is roughly written in this structure, and I can't imagine how the author managed to stretch it to over three hundred pages.

I need to reflect on myself for spending two hours on it, and also reflect on the decision to read this book in the first place - trusting various hot topics and recommendations from unknown sources.

"Political Gains and Losses in Chinese History"#


Politics can be divided into two aspects: personnel and institutions. Personnel change frequently, while institutions are relatively stable. Institutions are created and revised by people, and therefore fall under personnel.

    1. To discuss the institutions of a generation, one must be familiar with the personnel of that generation.
    1. No institution exists in isolation.
    1. Institutions change with personnel changes.
    1. The existence of institutions must have had a purpose at that time.
    1. No institution is absolutely advantageous without disadvantages, nor is it absolutely disadvantageous without advantages.
    1. When discussing an institution, attention should be paid to its timeliness and regional characteristics.
    1. When it comes to historical particularities, it is inevitably connected to the entire cultural history.

Based on these seven points, Qian Mu focuses on the government organization, examination and election system, tax system, and national defense and military service system of each dynasty, comparing how governments operated, how talents were selected, and how the economy and military were managed.

"The Klein Bottle"#


  • The name "Klein Bottle" already implies the theme of the novel, which is that this "bottle" has no beginning or end, and the starting point is also the ending point.
  • The two authors, Okajima and Teshima, are not the same person, but pen names shared by Izumi Inoue and Atsushi Tokuyama. Their collaboration method: Atsushi Tokuyama is responsible for the overall concept and foreshadowing, while Izumi Inoue is responsible for perfecting it into a novel.
  • After completing "The Klein Bottle" in 1989, the two authors announced their solo careers. However, it is said that this novel was completed by Izumi Inoue alone.
Ownership of this post data is guaranteed by blockchain and smart contracts to the creator alone.