Stross's Merchant Princes books in omnibus editions


Charlie Stross's "Merchant Princes" series-- a sly, action-packed romp that blends heroic fantasy, military science fiction, economics, politics, and alternate worlds -- originally published as six mass-market paperbacks, is now available in three handy trade-paperbacks.

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LISTEN: Systems thinking and medicine -- brilliant lecture on systemic problem-solving

The lecturer for the BBC's 2014 Reith lectures is Dr Atul Gawande, a celebrated author and MD whose book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right is a classic on how to think about systemic problem solving (which pays attention to how different people and activities come together to make and solve problems).

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David Graeber and Thomas Piketty on whether capitalism will destroy itself

Graeber wrote the magisterial Debt: The First 5,000 Years; Piketty, of course, wrote the essential Capital in the 21st Century -- in a must-read dialog, they discuss their differences and similarities and offer views on whether capitalism will collapse.

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The Peripheral: William Gibson vs William Gibson

In The Peripheral, William Gibson’s first futuristic novel since 1999’s All Tomorrow’s Parties, we experience the fantastic synthesis of a 20th century writer — the Gibson of Neuromancer, eyeball-kicks of flash and noir; and the Gibson of Pattern Recognition, arch and sly and dry and keen. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, in 20 minutes

Piketty's bestselling economics book is seismic, a vital infusion of data into the ideological debate over economics -- but it's also 700 pages long.

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Why (and how) games are art


I sat down for an interview with the LA Times's Hero Complex to talk about my book In Real Life (I'm touring it now: Chicago tomorrow, then Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Warsaw, London...), and found myself giving a pretty good account of why games are art, and how the art of games works:

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What does minimum wage get you

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Billy Domineau at Matter: If you have a minimum wage job ($7.25/hour), you need to work 55 hours to buy an iPhone 6 Plus (64 GB), and 149 hours for a year of Verizon service; 74 minutes gets you a Sara Lee Frozen Apple Pie.

The Olive Garden: all-you-can eat for hedge fund raiders

You probably saw the hilarious critique of The Olive Garden that made the rounds last week; the hedge fund behind that critique is a major shareholder with a long history of shady financial deals that gut profitable businesses, destroy jobs, and line the pockets of short-term "investors."

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The Cobra Effect: law of unintended consequences, squared

In British-ruled, cobra-infested India, a bounty was offered for cobra-skins, so enterprising folks started breeding cobras, leading to the program's cancellation, whereupon all those farmed cobras were released into the wild, a net increase in cobra population. That's not the only example, either.

(Image: Cobra, Kamalnv/Wikipedia, CC-BY)

The Economist defends America's enslavement of Africans


When The Economist reviewed The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, its anonymous reviewer condemned it, sticking up for America's legacy of slavery as a means of wealth creation, saying "Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery; almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains -- this is not history; it is advocacy."

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Forecasting versus the stubbornly arbitrary world

In a fascinating long, thinky piece, economist Tim Harford looks at the history of business and political forecasting, trying to understand why both Keynes and his rival Irving Fisher both failed to forecast the Great Depression and were wiped out (and why Keynes managed to bounce back and die a millionaire, while Fisher died in poverty).

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Adversarial Compatibility: hidden escape hatch rescues us from imprisonment through our stuff


My latest Guardian column, Adapting gadgets to our needs is the secret pivot on which technology turns, explains the hidden economics of stuff, and how different rules can trap you in your own past, or give you a better future.

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Monopolists are perfectly impedence-matched with bureaucrats


It's really easy to understand the perspective of the companies that own the giant buildings down the street, especially when the other side is a bunch of weird new businesses that want to do stuff no one has done before.

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When all the jobs belong to robots, do we still need jobs?


Zeynep Tufekci's scathing response to the establishment consensus that tech will create new jobs to replace the ones we've automated away makes a lot of good points.

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Economist examines empirical evidence of file-sharing on box-office revenue

A paper from University of Kansas economist Koleman Strumpf (whose work we've featured here for years) empirically examines the impact of file-sharing on box-office revenues.

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